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Malaysia Soars to 69.9 Million Air Passengers in 10 Months, Exceeding Projections

27 Dec 2023

Projected Passenger Traffic Up to 107.1 Million in 2024

KUALA LUMPUR, 27 December 2023 – The Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) today released the 14th edition of its Industry Report, Waypoint, highlighting the significant strides made by Malaysia’s aviation sector throughout the first nine months of 2023. 

According to the report, Malaysia’s aviation sector experienced robust growth in passenger traffic post-COVID-19 pandemic, reaching 69.9 million in the first ten months of 2023. This impressive growth has led MAVCOM to revise its 2023 forecast, now expecting between 84.5 million and 86.5 million passengers, surpassing earlier projections.

Datuk Seri Hj. Saripuddin Hj. Kasim, Executive Chairman of MAVCOM, said, “The growth in passenger traffic highlights the ongoing recovery of the aviation sector in Malaysia. Looking ahead, we expect to see a more pronounced recovery in passenger traffic for 2024. The Commission anticipates passenger numbers ranging from 93.9 million to 107.1 million. This indicates a recovery nearing 98 percent of the pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels seen in 2019. The upsurge is expected to be driven by increased domestic and international travel, particularly to China and the ASEAN region. However, there are potential challenges to consider, such as rising jet fuel costs, the Ringgit’s depreciation, possible delays in aircraft deliveries, and workforce issues, which add an element of caution to our projections.”

He added, “While a recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases has been observed in December 2023, MAVCOM believes that its impact on the aviation industry will not be as serious as it was previously. So far, the recovery to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels is expected to stay on the forecasted trajectory.” 

As for Malaysia’s air cargo volume, it saw a downturn of 15.3 per cent year-on-year (YoY), translating to 4.7 billion Freight Tonne Kilometres (FTK) in the third quarter of 2023 (Q3 2023). Consequently, MAVCOM adjusted its 2023 air cargo forecast downward, now expecting a decrease of between 14.1 per cent and 13.5 per cent, equating to 18.7 billion to 18.8 billion FTK. Despite this downturn, a positive shift is forecasted for 2024, with anticipated cargo growth ranging from 6.0 per cent to 6.6 per cent, potentially reaching 19.8 billion to 20.0 billion FTK. This expected upswing is attributed to the low base effect in 2023, a possible improvement in the global technology cycle, ongoing recovery in China, and broader economic stabilisation.

Malaysia retained its position as the fifth most connected country in ASEAN, achieving an impressive connectivity score of 79.7 in the first three quarters of 2023. KL International Airport, Terminal 1 upheld its status as the third-most connected airport in the region, with a direct air connectivity score of 59.9. Singapore International Airport remained at the forefront with a score of 102.1, followed by Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport at 89.1.

During the first nine months of 2023, MAVCOM granted a notable total of 173 additional Air Traffic Rights (ATRs). Of these, 44 ATRs were allocated for domestic routes, while 129 ATRs were for international destinations. Leading the pack in securing international ATRs was Malindo Airways Sdn. Bhd. (Batik Air) with a total of 35 ATRs, followed by AirAsia Berhad (AirAsia) and Malaysia Airlines Berhad (Malaysia Airlines) with 30 and 18 ATRs, respectively. In terms of regional distribution, ASEAN received the largest share with 48 ATRs granted by the Commission. This was followed by the rest of Asia with a total of 30 ATR approvals for flight routes encompassing Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Maldives, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Uzbekistan. This distribution underscores MAVCOM’s commitment to expanding both domestic and international air connectivity, with a particular focus on enhancing links within the ASEAN region.

The Waypoint Report is released biannually, and more information can be found here.