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MAVCOM Reports Steady Climb in Air Travel

2 May 2024


First Quarter of 2024 Sees Shift Towards International Air Traffic


KUALA LUMPUR, 2 May 2024The Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) today released the latest air passenger and cargo traffic statistics for the first quarter of 2024 (1Q24), highlighting the return to pre-COVID-19 travel patterns among Malaysian passengers.

Air passenger traffic in 1Q24 saw a significant increase year-on-year (YoY) compared to the first quarter of 2023 (1Q23), where quarterly traffic rose by 16.1 per cent YoY to 22.6 million passengers. This increase was primarily driven by international air traffic, which surged by 39.9 per cent YoY, reaching 11.9 million passengers. Quarterly domestic air passenger traffic experienced a slight dip of 2.3 per cent, totalling 10.7 million passengers. 

Compared to the fourth quarter of 2023, total air passenger traffic in 1Q24 increased quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) by 2.7 per cent, despite a slight decline in domestic air traffic by 2.5 per cent. International air passenger traffic increased by 7.9 per cent QoQ.

The growth in quarterly air traffic was recorded despite a 10.0 per cent month-on-month (MoM) decline from 8.1 million in February 2024 to 7.3 million in March 2024. The month saw a marked decline in domestic air travel, with a 14.8 per cent decrease from 4.0 million in February to 3.4 million in March 2024, while international air traffic also saw a decline of 5.4 per cent MoM. Passenger numbers were reflective of subdued travel activities during the holy month of Ramadan. Nevertheless, air passenger traffic in March 2024 showcased a 5.6 per cent YoY increase from March 2023, which recorded 6.9 million passengers. 

The industry recovery trajectory from COVID-19 indicates that the 1Q24 reached 85.5 per cent of 2019 levels, with international air traffic recovery at 89.3 per cent and domestic at 81.7 per cent.

For the first time since the pandemic, the share of international air traffic exceeded domestic air traffic, reflecting a robust recovery in international routes and frequencies as well as a shift back to international travel as global tourism recovers. Domestic and international air passenger traffic accounted for 47.5 per cent and 52.5 per cent of total quarterly air passenger traffic, respectively.

In terms of air cargo movements, Malaysia recorded 227,365 metric tonnes of cargo movements in 1Q24, a decrease of 6.3 per cent YoY compared to 242,750 metric tonnes during 1Q23. Domestic air cargo movements decreased by 30.7 per cent YoY, while international air cargo movements increased by 7.2 per cent YoY compared to 1Q23. 

On a QoQ basis, air cargo movements decreased by 10.7 per cent from 254,728 metric tonnes recorded in the fourth quarter of 2023, mainly due to seasonality factors. International air cargo movements decreased by 12.6 per cent QoQ, while domestic air cargo movements decreased by 5.0 per cent QoQ. 

Looking ahead to the second quarter of 2024, the Commission is optimistic about the continued recovery and growth of the aviation industry, despite recent cancellations and rerouting of flights due to the ongoing tension in the Middle East. While it is still too early to determine the impact of the conflict, the Commission anticipates total passenger traffic in 2024 to still land between the Commission’s forecasted range.

Datuk Seri Hj. Saripuddin Hj. Kasim, Executive Chairman of MAVCOM, said, “As we review the air traffic figures for the 1Q24, it is clear that the aviation sector is on a robust path to recovery. Airlines have shifted their attention to restoring and adding new international destinations in their networks, and the establishment of 30-day visa exemptions for tourists from China and India has provided a conducive environment for the accelerated return of international air travel. Additionally, despite a reduction in air cargo movements in the first quarter, Malaysia’s air cargo movements have remained above pre-pandemic levels at 100.7 per cent of air cargo movements during the first quarter of 2019.”

He further emphasised, “Our commitment to robust consumer protection measures and regulatory oversight remains unwavering, underscoring the industry’s pivotal role in fostering connections and driving economic sustainability.”