KUALA LUMPUR, May 12 — Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) announced that passenger movements throughout its system shrank by 98.8 per cent year-on-year last month to only 137,000 passengers amid the movement control order (MCO) enforcement.

The international sector registered a 99.3 per cent decline with a passenger traffic of 39,000 in April while domestic passenger movements declined by 98.4 per cent to just over 97,000 passengers.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia today, MAHB said April traffic performance at both Malaysia and Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SGIA) were affected by the full enforcement of the MCO in Malaysia and temporary suspension of Istanbul SGIA following the Turkish government’s decision to close borders.

“The MCO enforcement in Malaysia has restricted airport and airline operations to repatriation and cargo flights.

“Local airlines have recommenced flights to key domestic routes with minimal frequencies from April 29, 2020, amid the MCO, with airlines collectively working with airports to ensure a safe environment with effective layers of measures to ensure a smooth and safe journey,” it said.

The airport operator said on a last 12-month basis, the total MAHB system recorded 121.6 million passenger movements, down 10 per cent over the previous corresponding period.

Overall aircraft movements contracted by 91.6 per cent with international and domestic aircraft movements diving by 92.9 per cent and 90.7 per cent, respectively, over April 2019.

MAHB said the MCO, initially imposed for two weeks from March 18 with several extensions since, was now expected to end on June 9.

Flights were initially restricted to repatriation operations, to and from international sector and on-going rescued Malaysians travellers to domestic sector.

“Nevertheless, local airlines have since recommenced flights to key domestic routes with minimal frequencies from April 29 and are ready to increase more flights with the government’s endorsement to allow more inter-state border movements with strict travelling guidelines.

“The latest announcement of a conditional MCO (CMCO) from May 4 allowed almost all businesses to resume with tight SOP (standard operating procedure) guidelines, hence, allowing duty-free shops at our airports to restart their business,” it said.

Moving forward, MAHB said heightening safety measures and innovative ways to resume travellers’ confidence via the technology approach would play a bigger role.

“A new norm of travelling that would see additional processes, mask enforcement and social distancing, among others, to ensure a safer travel experience is inevitable for the time being, moving forward.

“Malaysia Airports has taken advantage of the MCO to embark on upgrading its core network operating system as part of its digital transformation programme, which would also support other infrastructure enhancements and capacity developments to provide better process automation, augmented contactless self-service, robotics and biometrics technology,” it added. — Bernama