KL International Airport Malaysia Airlines aircraft

Malaysia Airports eyeing to welcome 17 airlines from seven regions in two years

Malaysia welcomed five new international airlines in January and February 2024, heralding a good start to the new year.

The expanded roster of airlines now serving Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) offers travellers with more connectivity options strengthening the airport’s position as a hub within the region.

Among the latest additions are Air Macau, providing four-weekly service from Macau; Loong Air, offering thrice-weekly flights from Hangzhou, China; Turkmenistan Airlines, providing twice-weekly service from Ashgabat; and Iraqi Airways, resuming its weekly service route to Baghdad. Meanwhile, flydubai is now serving daily flights to Penang and Langkawi from Dubai.

Acting Group Chief Executive Officer, Mohamed Rastam Shahrom said that Malaysia Airports has seen significant increase in air traffic owing to proactive strategic route development initiatives implemented post-pandemic. “Over the course of this year and the next, we have identified 17 potential airlines from seven distinct regions to operate in Malaysia,” added Mohamed.

In January 2024, the local network of airports operated by Malaysia Airports (the Group) recorded 6.9 million total passenger movements, reaching 83% of 2019 levels. International traffic captured 3.8 million passenger movements, whereas the domestic sector accounted for 3.1 million passenger movements.

The continuous growth for international traffic was partly driven by the 30-day visa-free entry for Chinese visiting Malaysia and the 15-day visa free policy for Malaysians visiting China, coupled with 25 additional weekly flights by partner airlines.

Apart from the introduction of new airlines, airlines such as China Eastern Airlines started operating four-weekly flights from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur while Etihad Airways increased its service frequency from daily to twice per day from Abu Dhabi to Kuala Lumpur. Budget airline Firefly also introduced charter flights from Tawau in Sabah, Malaysia to Nanjing in China with thrice-weekly flights.

At the end of January, the domestic sector experienced a rise in the average load factor, surpassing 80%. This uptick was driven by increased travel activity during the Chinese New Year festivities, which coincided with school holidays.

Overall, local airports played a significant role in the Group’s performance for January 2024, accounting for 69% of the total passenger movements, which amounted to 10.1 million passengers.

As for the Group’s Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Türkiye, total passenger movements continued to hit above the 3 million mark at 3.2 million passengers in January which surpassed 2019 levels by 14.2%. International and domestic passenger movements registered 1.7 million and 1.5 million passengers respectively. Pegasus also launched a new international service to Zagreb, the first gateway in Croatia for the SAW network with twice-weekly flights in January.

Sabiha Gokcen International Airport’s total passenger count reached 37.1 million in 2023. The figure surpassed the previous all-time high of 35.5 million, registered in 2019.

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