The Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) has cut its passenger traffic projection for the year, citing the resurgence in coronavirus cases, as well as a general uncertainty surrounding recovery. 

In its latest forecast, MAVCOM says Malaysian passenger traffic for the year is expected to contract up to 29% year on year, translating to between 18.9 to 20.6 million passengers.

KLIA June 2020

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport in June 2020

This compares to an earlier forecast — issued at the end of 2020 — which stated that traffic would rebound this year, to between 51.7 and 53.3 million passengers.

The agency notes that in the first three months of the year, only 1.7 million passengers flew, representing a 91% decline year on year. This, says MAVCOM, “could signal significantly lower passenger traffic numbers for the rest of the year”.

It expects air travel demand to be impacted for the rest of year, especially as Malaysia battles a fresh surge in coronavirus cases, prompting the federal government to impose domestic travel restrictions.

“The aviation industry is expected to continue weathering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic as uncertainties loom over the industry’s path to recovery,” MAVCOM adds.

While it notes that the rollout of a nation-wide vaccination programme is cause for some optimism, it adds: “[Negligence] and complacency in observing public health measures may also increase in tandem with vaccination efforts, causing a potential new wave of infections. This will further delay the recovery of the aviation industry.”

MAVCOM executive chairman Saripuddin Kasim says: “The commission’s downward revision of passenger traffic for 2021 brings to the fore the clearly difficult task of weighing the underlying challenges faced by the industry.

“The vaccine rollout timeline, implementation of stricter or eased public health measures, safe reopening of international borders for air travel as well as changes in air travel demand will continue to influence the sector’s speed of recovery.”