KUALA LUMPUR: MALAYSIA AIRPORTS HOLDINGS BHD (MAHB) group recorded 83.3 million passenger movements in 2014, an increase of 4.7% from a year, but this was below its expectations due to the twin tragedies involving Malaysia Airlines.
MAHB said on Monday this was the first-time that passenger movements exceeded the 80 million mark, but added passenger traffic performance was affected by the negative sentiment from the two “major unprecedented” MAS incidents.
“The impact from MH370 was significant for the China sector and also sentiment more generally, as closure in the form of official incident findings seem to be elusive at this juncture,” it said.
In contrast, MH17 caused a dent in the Europe sector traffic to KLIA and resultant flows to other airports both domestic and in South-East Asia.
From an average 9.0% year-on-year growth in the first seven months of 2014, the Europe sector traffic deteriorated to an average decline of negative 1.9% in the last five months, the highest decline being negative 6.1%.
MAHB pointed out that based on the load factor and airlines’ seat analysis, the indication of latent demand remains strong.
“This is evident, for instance, from a high 6.6% increase in airlines seats offered in 2014 while achieving a 72.0% average load factor. There are also highly strategic longer-haul routes that have achieved load factors of closer to 85% - a level that often triggers the entry of either new airlines to KLIA or added frequencies by existing carriers,” it said.
MAHB said of the 83.3 million passengers, the AIRASIA
and Malaysia Airlines groups accounted for nearly 80% whilst foreign carriers accounted for just below 15%.
However, in terms of growth, the largest contributor in 2014 was clearly Malindo Air, and then followed by the AirAsia and then the Malaysia Airlines groups.
Foreign carriers as a whole registered a decline in main due to the China sector traffic travails and also cut-backs from Singapore-owned carriers especially once klia2 opened.
“In these too, are generally positive indications to the continued strength of KLIA and the system of airports in Malaysia despite the unprecedented airline-related incidents in 2014,” it said.
Commenting on the passenger movement growth in 2014, it said that from an average of 27.0% year-on-year growth in the first three months of 2014, the China sector traffic deteriorated to an average of double-digit contraction in the last nine months, the peak of the contraction being a decline of nearly 20% in August.
“China sector traffic is important to airports in Malaysia as it remains the single-fastest growing sector in global traffic flows. Without official closure, it remains to be seen what the long-term implications may be, despite the historically strong bilateral relationship of the two countries,” it explained.
However, despite the unprecedented MAS incidents that affected sentiment and traffic performance from May 2014, there was a progressive recovery in the air travel market, towards the end of the year.
The first four months performance registered an average year-on-year growth of 17.0% which deteriorated to an average contraction of 0.4% for the next eight months after the MH370 incident.
“December 2014 continued to register highest passenger movements as in previous years. December 2014’s performance with 8.2 million passengers translating into a positive growth of 0.3% over December 2013 was better than expected,” it said.
MAHB added December’s average load factor of 76.5% was the highest recorded for a month in 2014, which potentially portends to recovering industry demand in 2015 as this occurred at the same time when industry supply in the form of aircraft traffic movements grew by an even more robust 9.1% over December 2013.
In 2014, international passenger traffic increased by 4.9%, while domestic movements increased by 4.5%.
Several airports registered double-digit growth varying from 13.5% to 48.4% for 2014 including Alor Setar, Kota Bharu, Kuala Terengganu, Ipoh, Lahad Datu, Langkawi, and Subang.
Langkawi, Penang and Subang airports each achieved a new milestone by surpassing the six million (Penang Airport) and two million (Subang and Langkawi airports) movements marks respectively.
Notwithstanding the unexpectedly adverse environment, the 4.7% growth in 2014 can be considered credible, it added.
Aircraft movements recorded a growth of 7.3% while cargo movements grew by 8.0%, registering a volume of 1,011,904 metric tonnes. This is the highest cargo volume handled by the Malaysia Airports system since 2006.
KLIA recorded 48.9 million passengers, 3.0% above 2013. Apart from the negative incidents, KLIA’s growth was also affected by the shift in airlines’ domestic operations for direct flights between the domestic airports, as compared to previously, where connections to domestic airports were mainly through KLIA.
KLIA Main recorded a decrease in growth by 3.0%, handling 24.9million passengers, while the combined eight months’ performance by klia2 and four months by LCCT (”klia2/LCCT”) increased by 10.1% with 24.0million passengers in 2014 over 2013.
Prior to klia2’s commencement in May, KLIA Main recorded an average of 17.2% year-on-year growth up to April but it declined to negative 11.2% for the next eight months.
The decline registered for KLIA Main was cemented by the expected transfer of Lion Air and Malindo Air operations to klia2.
KLIA registered 339,680 aircraft movements for 2014. Cargo movements was 758,060 metric tonnes, the highest ever handled at KLIA. As at end of 2014 a total of 62 airlines operated from KLIA to 126 destinations.
MAHB said it registered 8.2million passenger movements in December 2014, an increase of 0.3% over December 2013.
International sector increased by 4.2% while the domestic sector declined by 3%. The international movements experienced the highest growth since June 2013.
However, the domestic sector continued the declining trend. Average load factor for December was recorded at 76.4%, the highest for the year.
Year-on-year, KLIA December passenger traffic increased by 0.3%. International movements increased by 5.4% while domestic movements registered a decline of 10.4% compared to December 2013.
Passenger traffic at KLIA Main declined by 3.0% whilst klia2 increased by 10.1%. On a like-for-like basis, if Lion Air and Malindo Air had not transferred its operations to klia2, KLIA Main would have recorded a positive 0.3% growth while klia2 would have recorded a lower 5.9% growth.
“These are very important points to understand that KLIA Main would have registered a highly resilient marginal growth in 2014 despite the unprecedented Malaysia Airlines and even AirAsia Indonesia incidents without the expected transfer of Lion Air and Malindo Air to the other terminal.
“Aircraft movements increased by 4.3% with an average load factor of 77.9%. The high average load factor for 2014 can be read as strong potential for further growth in 2015, assuming all other material factors had remained the same,” it said.
MAHB added the expansion of Firefly and Malindo Air at Subang Airport is accommodating some of the demand for domestic travel previously catered by KLIA and this has partly affected domestic growth at KLIA. In addition, new direct flights established between secondary airports are also bypassing KLIA.
These two trends are expected and strongly encouraged by Malaysia Airports to improve connectivity, choice and efficiency. These trends also lend credence to Malaysia Airports’ increased efforts in building up the industry eco-systems at smaller airports apart from KLIA.
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