KLIA passengers seen to reach 17mil


BY HASNI MOHD NASIR

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) expects passenger growth at KL International Airport (KLIA) to reach 17.06 million, up 4% from 16.4 million a year ago. 

Transport Minister Datuk Chan Kong Choy said although the three quarters to September 2003 figures showed a 3.6% drop to 12.49 million passengers from the previous corresponding period, he expected the final quarter to make up the numbers. 

“KLIA suffered a drop in passenger volume in the four months beginning April, May, June and July but August figures showed that things are back to pre-Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) levels,” he told reporters after officiating the New Route Asia forum in Sepang yesterday. 

In April, the passenger volume showed a drop of 24.7%, May (29.5%), June (13.5%) and July (2%). 

Chan said foreign airlines had been slowly making a comeback to KLIA with the latest, Philippine Airlines, to start flying next week, in addition to Royal Nepal and Air China which started flying in April and September respectively.  

In total, 42 airlines fly to KLIA. 

Airlines such as Xiamen Air, Garuda, Royal Jordan, Royal Brunei and Air Mauritius have either increased their frequencies or upgraded their capacity during the year. 

MAHB managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Bashir Ahmad said the company would start wooing European and American carriers to reinstate or relocate their flights to KLIA. 

Currently, only two European carriers, KLM and Lauda Air, fly into KLIA. There is no American carrier after NorthWest pulled out some years back. 

“We already have good traffic, which is a crucial factor in luring these carriers back,” he said.  

Carriers such as British Airways and Lufthansa stopped their services after the Asian economic crisis affected their load factor. 

Meanwhile, Transport Ministry secretary-general Datuk Zaharah Shaari said the government was still keeping the option open on the 20% stake in MAHB that was supposed to be sold to foreign investors. 

In 2001, Schiphol Group of Amsterdam held talks with the government for the stake but the deal did not go through. 

She said KLIA, which had targeted for a 24 million passenger movements by 2008, would have to scale back its projection by a few years due to adverse environment in the world airline industry such as the Asian economic crisis, SARS and Iraq war. 

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