PETALING JAYA: Air passenger traffic grew 123.6% in the first quarter of 2023 (Q1 2023) compared with the previous corresponding period, indicating a healthy recovery in air travel.
The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) said a total of 19.4 million passengers passed through Malaysian airports during the quarter.
It expects air passenger traffic in 2023 to rise by 40% to 52% from last year to hit 74.6 million to 80.8 million.
In Waypoint, its bi-annual industry report of which the 14th edition was released today, Mavcom said that with the full reopening of international borders, international passenger traffic had grown at an average of 80.9% quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q).
In a statement issued today, Mavcom said approved international air traffic rights (ATRs) had also demonstrated a notable y-o-y increase of 246.1%, underscoring the steady revival of the international market.
“Total passenger traffic stood at 73% of the 2019 level,” it said.
However, there was a decline in the cargo segment. The total freight tonne kilometre (FTK) dropped 11% y-o-y to 4.66 million tonnes, making it the second declining quarter in a row.
“This reduction is in line with Malaysia’s trade performance during the quarter, due to several factors, including a slowdown in the global economy, a continued shift in consumer spending from products to services, and a downward cycle in the electrical and electronics industry,” Mavcom said.
Air cargo traffic is projected to grow between 3% and 4.8% y-o-y in 2023, it said.
“Given the challenging cargo performance in Q1, we expect the 2023 cargo traffic to hover near the lower end of the forecast, suggesting much slower growth,” it added.
Mavcom executive chairman Saripuddin Kasim said despite this downturn in cargo traffic, the remarkable surge in passenger traffic painted a compelling picture of the resilience inherent in the Malaysian aviation industry.
“This remarkable performance not only demonstrates our ability to rebound but also provides a solid foundation for continued growth in the sector throughout 2023,” he said.
Reflecting a vibrant recovery in the aviation industry, Malaysia’s air connectivity ranking improved to fifth in Asean, overtaking the Philippines with a connectivity score of 61 in 2022.
The improvement can be attributed to higher deployment of seats to destinations with a higher weightage following the lifting of border restrictions in the third quarter of 2022.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminals 1 and 2 collectively maintain their position as the fourth-most connected airport in Asean.
Mavcom’s report also noted that the revenue per available seat kilometre-cost per available seat kilometre (Rask-Cask) spread has stabilised to 1.6 sen in the fourth quarter of 2022.