The Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) has identified aircraft delivery delays as a “pressing issue” for the country’s airline sector, as passenger traffic moves closer to a full post-pandemic recovery this year. 

In comments made alongside the release of traffic statistics for February, MAVCOM chair Saripuddin Kasim says the “current aircraft capacity” is constrained due to delivery delays on the back of supply chain disruption. 


Source: Alfred Chua/FlightGlobal

Malaysian airline sector is expected to regain pre-pandemic traffic levels this year

“Therefore, it is imperative that airlines meticulously plan their network and allocate their resources efficiently,” Saripuddin adds. 

Several Malaysian carriers are waiting on deliveries of new aircraft: flag carrier Malaysia Airlines has Boeing 737 Max 8s and Airbus A330neos scheduled for delivery in 2024, while low-cost giant AirAsia is set to resume taking A321neo deliveries in the middle of the year. 

Malaysia Airlines has warned of delivery delays – especially to its Boeing narrowbodies – which has forced the carrier to look at “adjusting our plans to match those disruptions”. 

The airline’s first 737 Max 8 was handed over late due to production delays at Boeing, and the airline has had to revise its delivery timeline for the remaining 24 examples it has on order. 

AirAsia’s plans to return all its parked planes to service has also faced delays,due to the ongoing supply chain crunch. 

MAVCOM’s traffic statistics for February show a significant spike in demand, with passenger numbers up 12.6% compared with January, and rising almost 35% year on year, to 8.1 million. 

Domestic passenger traffic rose the most during the month, up 20.4% against January, while international traffic was up 5.9% across the same period. 

“This growth can be attributed to various factors, including the Chinese New Year festive period, the month-long school break, and the establishment of 30-day visa exemptions for tourists from China and India, which collectively stimulated travel demand,” states the agency. 

At end-February, MAVCOM says traffic has recovered to about 95% pre-pandemic levels. Saripuddin adds that a full recovery is likely to come by the end of the year, and exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2025. 

“Beyond just an increase in numbers, the significant uptick in air travel is a reflection of restored faith in safe travel and a resurgent desire for connection, underscoring the aviation sector’s pivotal role in facilitating not just economic vitality but also the rekindling of connections,” he adds.