KUALA LUMPUR: MALAYSIA AIRPORTS HOLDINGS BHD (MAHB) sees little disruption in passenger movement at its airports despite the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX type aircraft by airlines around the world.
The airport operator said three international carriers which operate the Boeing 737 MAX to the KL International Airport (KLIA) had switched to other aircraft types after the Ethiopian Air incident on March 10.
It also said that Indonesian carriers are seen to reduce flight frequencies after the Lion Air crash in October 2018 which is also related to the Boeing 737 MAX.
"The recent grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX may have further negative impact on Indonesian carriers’ capacity to Malaysia. However, the impact from this may not be significant as most of the Indonesian sectors have competing operators," it said in its monthly passenger traffic update.
Passenger traffic at KLIA in March was little changed at 5.2 million passengers. March 2019 passenger movements for KLIA's main terminal declined by 0.6%, while klia2 increased by 0.6%, it said.
MAHB said domestic air travel remained busy in the first quarter of this year, with 15 airports across the country recording growth in passenger traffic.
Growth, according to the airport operator, was driven by additional seat capacity offered by airlines.
MAHB, which operates all airports in the country except for the Senai Airport in Johor, said passenger movement rose 3.9% in the first quarter ended March 31 (Q1) to 25.4 million travellers.
"Malaysia's Q1 2019 growth was driven by the domestic sector, partly due to the higher seat capacity offered by airlines to match air travel demand," it said. Local airports that registered double-digit growth were Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Melaka, Ipoh, Kuantan, Tawau, Labuan, Bintulu and Sibu.
MAHB said domestic traffic grew 7.7% in the first quarter, faster compared with the international segment's growth of 0.6%.
Aircraft movements at local airports grew by 0.7% in Q1 2019 over Q1 2018. International movements declined by 2.1% while domestic sector increased by 2.5% over the same period.
Total passenger traffic at all airports managed by MAHB, including in Turkey, climbed 3.7% in the first quarter 33.4 million passengers. International traffic registered 3.4% growth with 16.1million passengers while domestic passenger movements increased by 4% with 17.4million passengers.
"The overall passenger movement of 3.7% growth for the network of airport in Q1 2019 was driven by both international and domestic sector albeit with a different traffic backdrop for Malaysia and Istanbul SGIA," MAHB said.
Moving forward, the future seat capacity filings by airlines remain above expectation and MAHB said it is cautiously optimistic that the projected 4.9% growth for 2019 would be achievable.
"The domestic traffic correction and consolidation is expected to continue while the international sector may see some improvement. Istanbul SGIA performance will likely maintain its growth momentum especially for the international passenger traffic," it said.