Aviation body lowers growth forecast due to virus outbreak

Passenger traffic at the country’s airports has dropped following the coronavirus outbreak.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) has reduced its original growth forecast for passenger traffic at the country’s airports due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Mavcom chief operating officer Azmir Zain said it originally forecast a 5% to 6% increase in passenger travel for the year, but this has now been revised to between 4.6% and 5.7%. In 2019, there were 109.2 million passengers travelling through Malaysia’s airports.

Speaking at a press conference after presenting the national aviation economic regulator’s recommendations to the government for the local aviation industry, Azmir said this would result in a drop in revenue for local Malaysian carriers and airports.

He said that this was because of the disruption in airline services between Malaysia and China and it did not affect only the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) but also Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA).

“We would expect the carriers and airports to take certain steps to mitigate the effects of those decreased revenues,” he said.

Azmir said the carriers might need to think of ways to redeploy aircraft that were normally utilised for operations to China.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has seen airlines temporarily suspending flights to destinations in China. AirAsia, for example, will be suspending flights to China until Feb 29.