KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) is forecasting air passenger traffic to grow by 316 per cent to 525 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) in 2022 to between 32.6 million and 49.0 million passengers.

This would mark a 30 to 45 per cent recovery from the pre-pandemic air passenger traffic levels in 2019, the regulator said in a statement in conjunction with the release of the 10th edition of its industry report, Waypoint.

“Additionally, airlines are expected to gradually expand seat capacity as pent-up travel demand and accrued savings drive passenger traffic growth in 2022,” it said.

The Waypoint report outlines the performance of the Malaysian aviation sector in the third quarter of 2021.

In the report, Mavcom indicated early signs of recovery for the local aviation sector in September and October 2021, which recorded air passenger traffic growth of 56.6 per cent and 190.2 per cent month-on-month, respectively.

Air passenger traffic for the months stood at 5.3 per cent and 14.9 per cent of the traffic recorded in the same months of 2019, it said.

Executive chairman Datuk Seri Saripuddin Kasim said total air passenger traffic for 2021 is expected to be closer to Mavcom’s best-case scenario forecast of 6.9 million to 7.8 million air travel passengers.

He noted that the easing of travel restrictions, travel bubbles, the reopening of international borders in light of Malaysia’s rapid vaccination rollout, as well as the recent Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) to Singapore, have contributed to the recovery.

These initiatives have allowed for tourism activities to restart with early indications pointing towards a positive outlook for Malaysia’s air passenger traffic in 2022, he said.

“The Malaysian aviation sector’s journey to full recovery is still far from over.

“Aviation industry players may still face significant challenges ahead with the rise in Brent crude oil and jet fuel prices that could impact operational costs, as well as possible outbreaks of new Covid-19 variants, including the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

“However, we remain hopeful that the industry will continue to make progress, particularly as the Malaysian government considers reopening mutual borders with several countries,” he added.

On air cargo, Saripuddin said demand remains resilient, reflected by a substantial y-o-y growth of 19.7 per cent in total freight tonne kilometres (FTK) during the third quarter of 2021.

“The commission expects air cargo to remain vital to the industry for the remainder of 2021 and in 2022,” he said.

For 2022, air cargo traffic is projected to grow by between 3.9 per cent and 6.7 per cent y-o-y, which translates into 20.8 billion to 21.6 billion FTK, underpinned by the progress of vaccination programmes, strong growth of e-commerce, electrical and electronics as well as demand from Malaysia’s main trading partners, he added. — Bernama