This is due to the recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia and globally, it said in a statement today.
MAVCOM said during the first quarter of 2021 (Q1 2021), only 1.7 million passengers had utilised air services -- a 91.1 per cent y-o-y decline from 19.1 million passengers in Q1 2020, which could indicate significantly lower passenger traffic numbers for the rest of the year.
"Given the reimplementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) and with travel restrictions to potentially be enforced throughout 2021, demand for air travel is expected to be impacted.
"MAVCOM’s forecast also took into consideration the expected lower load factor and seat capacity for the year,” it said.
Executive chairman Datuk Seri Saripuddin Kasim said the commission’s downward revision of passenger traffic for 2021 highlights the clearly difficult task of weighing the underlying challenges faced by the industry.
He said the vaccine rollout timeline, implementation of stricter or eased public health measures, safe reopening of international borders for air travel as well as changes in air travel demand will continue to influence the sector’s speed of recovery.
"As we move further into 2021, MAVCOM will closely observe and assess market developments as well as efforts in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as we support the return of the nation’s aviation sector to pre-pandemic levels,” he said.
MAVCOM added that negligence and complacency in observing public health measures may also increase in tandem with vaccination efforts, causing a potential new wave of infections, thus further delaying the aviation industry’s recovery.
It noted that the reopening of Malaysia’s international borders is subject to approval by National Security Council and the latest COVID-19 developments in Malaysia and other countries.
As such, the verification of vaccination certificates and standardised implementation of quarantine standard operating procedures (SOP) worldwide must be in place in order to safely reopen borders and commence international travel, said MAVCOM.
"Malaysia is studying the implementation of an internationally recognised digital health pass, such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass, which informs passengers on tests, vaccines as well as other measures they would need to look into prior to travelling,” it said.
The pass also allows travellers to share their test and vaccination results in a secure manner.
"The adoption of the IATA Travel Pass is expected to facilitate post-COVID-19 travel and spur international passenger movement. Coupled with this, air travel bubbles between green zone countries could also boost passenger traffic,” it added. - Bernama