Govt-owned cargo carrier profits from soaring demand for gloves

MAB Kargo has started to contribute up to 25% of the Malaysia Aviation Group’s revenue. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: The government-owned MAB Kargo carrier has seen “impressive” profits since February, helped by soaring demand for medical gloves in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company raised freight rates by as much as 50% in some cases and added capacity on high-demand routes.

It also saw high-volume shipments of face masks and medical gowns during the pandemic, CEO Ibrahim Mohamed Salleh told Reuters.

Malaysia is the world’s leading producer of medical gloves.

“We ran our numbers and it makes money,” Ibrahim was quoted as saying. He declined to give profit figures.

The report said exports of Malaysian medical glove exports are expected to jump 32% to 225 billion pieces this year, and supplies are being urgently airlifted to Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States as customers do not want to wait for the usual sea route.

It said MAB Kargo’s performance during the pandemic contrasts with sister company Malaysia Airlines which has been forced to ground most of its planes as Covid-19 impacts global travel.

Ibrahim said MAB Kargo typically contributes 10% to 15% towards the revenue of the holding company Malaysia Aviation Group, but has started contributing up to 25% in the past few months.

Its freight rates have risen since mid-March, by half for some sectors, and it operates three freighter aircraft and has converted a few selected passenger aircraft to move cargoes as well.

“Rates have risen quite substantially, to the point that it is profitable to operate an A330 passenger aircraft filled with about 20 tonnes of cargo back and forth,” he said.

The company also sent another wide-body Airbus A380 passenger plane to London with e-commerce goods from Guangzhou last month.

Last week, MAB Kargo started flying cargo strapped onto passenger seats, and it is studying the possibility of utilising more aircraft held by its parent for cargo.

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