KUALA LUMPUR (March 16): Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) passenger count across Malaysia more than halved to 318,000 in February, from 754,000 in January, hit by temporary flight suspensions partly due to the resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

Passenger count through the Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SGIA) in Istanbul, Turkey also fell 2.35% to 1.29 million passengers, from 1.32 million in January, MAHB passenger traffic data snapshot showed.

In total, MAHB saw 1.607 million passengers in February, down 22.59% month-on-month (m-o-m) from 2.076 million passengers in January. Year-on-year (y-o-y), the figure was down 81.9% from 8.876 million passengers in February 2020 — a month before nations shut their borders due to Covid-19.

With regard to aircraft movements, the Malaysian portfolio saw 11,416 aircraft in February — down 33.72% from 17,224 planes in January. SGIA saw a 5.82% decline to 9,503 planes, from 10,090 in January.

In total, aircraft movements fell 23.41% m-o-m to 20,919 planes in February, from 27,314 in January. Y-o-y, the aircraft movements fell 75.5% from 85,215 in February 2020.

MAHB said that on a last trailing 12-month basis, the total MAHB network (inclusive of SGIA) registered 25.9 million passenger movements, a contraction of 81.5% y-o-y.

"Despite low passenger volumes, MAHB continued its effort to ensure all airports are at the highest level of safety for passengers and crew.

"Several efforts were also carried out on improving services and airport readiness as advanced preparation for air travel resumption. These efforts were recognised when Kuala Lumpur International Airport gained top spot with a perfect score of 5.00 out of 5.00 for the global Airport Service Quality survey by Airport Council International for the category of over 40 million passengers per annum for 4Q20," MAHB said.

The airport operator said it is monitoring closely the latest developments and challenges regarding the new virus variants and the vaccine roll-outs for Malaysia, Turkey and the surrounding regions.

"The positive impact of vaccine to air travel in Malaysia is expected to be more pronounced once the healthcare workforce, high-risk population are vaccinated in the first batch of vaccination list and the rest of the population from May onwards.

"MAHB also expects a gradual recovery again from the domestic sector in Malaysia over the next few months once the daily cases are effectively reduced, interstate travel restrictions are relaxed, and confidence of air travellers builds up with the increasing number of populations vaccinated," it added.

Shares of MAHB rose five sen or 0.77% to RM6.55 today, valuing the group at RM10.87 billion.

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