Change of guard but no turbulence at Malaysia Airports

MAHB acting group CEO Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The sudden resignation of Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin last week took many by surprise, but for the airport operator it’s business as usual.

Speaking to FMT, the company’s acting group CEO Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh said the entire MAHB team was focused on what was ahead of them.

“Raja Azmi did a lot for MAHB, and we worked closely to strengthen our team and develop plans for our short and long-term future. 2020 is a big year for Malaysia and us especially, because we will be the main gateway for tourists coming here for Visit Malaysia 2020.”

Shukrie said where Visit Malaysia 2020 was concerned, MAHB got off to a great start with the successful expansion of the immigration arrival area at klia2 to almost twice its original size.

“Now, the immigration arrival area can comfortably accommodate 1,000 people at a time; before this, it could fit less than 500 people.”

Throughout the year, he added, MAHB would be looking to draw in more international airlines.

“We’re positive that we can draw more airlines here by the end of 2020.”

Last year, Air Busan, Batik Air, Air Arabia, Scoot, Qatar Airways, and Royal Brunei began landing in Malaysia while Indigo, Citilink, AirAsia Thailand and Philippines Airlines increased flight frequencies to Malaysia from other countries.

Shukrie said they would continue to work with various airlines, government agencies and tour operators to boost Malaysia’s tourism potential.

MAHB, he said, had spent millions to help the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign, including a RM5 million campaign to promote Langkawi and RM10 million for the Joint International Tourism Development Programme to which Tourism Malaysia also contributed RM10 million.

The funds for both programmes are made available to tour operators, travel agencies and other tourism players.

“We are also looking forward to greater progress where our commercial reset exercise is concerned. We’ve put in a lot of work to transform our retail and food and beverage offerings. This is an ongoing process, yet we’ve already seen the benefits from higher sales figures, and we’re confident that we will see more encouraging figures by the end of 2020.”

In terms of the “hardware” at the country’s main gateway KUL (which includes KLIA and klia2), Shukrie said MAHB would be introducing new technologies to enhance airport security.

This includes a facial recognition system and real-time information sharing which are designed to ensure a smoother and more convenient airport experience for passengers.

“We will also be upgrading our aerotrain and baggage handling system this year.”

He added that he was looking forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure a successful 2020 for MAHB.