KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 — Malaysia pledges to actively participate in the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) continuous mission of enabling a global air transport network and strategic objectives, to better prepare for a post-Covid-19 recovery of the aviation industry, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong.

During his opening speech at the Future Aviation Forum 2022 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia today, he also reaffirmed the Malaysian government’s commitment to support ICAO’s initiatives with focus on safety and facilitation objectives, taking into account the economic impacts of Covid-19 on the aviation sector.

“Malaysia is supportive and appreciative of the work done by ICAO, especially the Civil Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART), which comprises member states, international and regional organisations and industries. It addresses the challenges of the pandemic and provides guidance for a safe, secure and sustainable restart and recovery of the aviation sector,” he said.

Wee further said it is vital for all aviation industry players to devise coping strategies to adapt to the new normal in looking beyond the pandemic for survival.

He said, it is equally as important for different countries to take appropriate and coordinated actions to stabilise and support their aviation industries, which are beyond their airlines and airports.

“Governments must also address and enable the broader economic recovery to ensure the aviation industry can continue its pivotal role in providing connectivity, driving national prosperity and job growth,” he said.

Meanwhile, Wee called for simpler, consistent and more predictable imposition of health protocols for air travels.

He said this includes allowing vaccinated passengers to travel without additional measures and using pre-departure antigen tests for non-vaccinated passengers.

“Other measures which require further considerations are to avoid on-arrival testing and to remove travel bans.

“Easing of travel restrictions should also be accelerated in recognition of the fact that travellers pose no greater risk of Covid-19 infection than what has already been in existence in the general population,” he explained.

According to Wee, the Transport Ministry had recorded a 52 per cent month-on-month increase in international traffic during March this year with 420,000 passenger movements with the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) initiative.

The VTL initiative was first established between Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Singapore Changi Airport on November 29 last year as an initiative to revive the local air travel industry that had been badly affected by Covid-19.

He said in line with the recommendations of ICAO through the Global Market-Based Measures (GMBM), Malaysia is committed towards addressing environmental challenges and sustainability.

Wee said recognising the pressing need to become more environmentally friendly, Malaysia has pledged its undivided support to participate in the voluntary pilot phase of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for international Aviation (CORSIA) to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goal of reducing carbon emissions by 40 per cent.

He said being one of the biggest palm oil producers, Malaysia has introduced the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) Certification Scheme in 2013 to address global concerns on the sustainable production of palm oil, including that of biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the destruction of wildlife habitats.

“However, we do understand that according to the ICAO CORSIA Eligible Fuels document, crude palm oil (CPO) does not meet the CORSIA sustainable criteria to qualify as CORSIA eligible fuels.

“In view of this, the Malaysian government is committed towards empowering research on biojet fuel as a source of eligible fuels, to which RM40 million had been allocated for sustainable fuel research grants in Malaysia in the 2020 Budget. Thus, Malaysia aspires to see CPO to be included as an acceptable feedstock in CORSIA in the future,” he said.

He also said Malaysia recognises the importance of utilising Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in reducing carbon emissions from its operations as well as meeting the aviation industry global aspirational goals.

However, he said the current market price of SAF is currently three times more expensive than that of conventional fossil jet fuel, which is not economically feasible to be used by aircraft operators.

Hence, he said Malaysia would like to reiterate ICAO’s assembly resolution A40-18, which acknowledges the need for SAF to be developed and deployed in an economically feasible, socially and environmentally acceptable manner.

Wee said the use of SAF will be mainly driven by CORSIA due to aircraft operators’ ability to claim for emissions reduction from its offsetting obligations.

“However, Malaysia recognises that the use of SAF must go beyond CORSIA compliance to support aviation industry’s global aspirational goal in environmental protection, which is to reduce emissions by 50 per cent in 2050, as compared to the statistics in 2005,” he said. — Bernama