Malaysian airlines and airports anticipate travel recovery with tourism bubble


Fully vaccinated tourists arriving at the Langkawi International Airport on the first day of the tourism bubble programme. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

Now that Langkawi is opened for fully vaccinated local tourists under the tourism bubble programme, airports around the country are gearing up for the recovery of air travel.

Malaysia Airports (MAHB) said continuous efforts will be put in place to ensure the safety of staff and passengers, and that airport environment is proper at all times.

Its chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh said he is optimistic about the recovery of air travel in the country.

“We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel especially with the reopening of domestic tourism. With Langkawi as the pioneer destination of the domestic travel bubble, we are certainly looking forward to our airport operations being in full swing again,” he said in a statement.

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In its bid to ensure continued safety of staff, MAHB Is targetting for all its workers to receive both doses of vaccination by the end of September.

To date, five airports in Malaysia have received the Airport Health Accreditation by the Airports Council International (ACI).

The KL International Airport, Kuching International Airport, Langkawi International Airport, Kota Kinabalu International Airport and Penang International Airport have been certified in meeting global health and safety standards.

“Despite 2020 being a challenging year, we focused on improving our operation standards and facilities. We also took full advantage of the lull period to upgrade and expedite our long-term plans such as critical asset replacements, as well as our commercial reset initiatives,” said Mohd Shukrie.

MAHB is anticipating a recovery of domestic air travel in Malaysia in the next few months.

Meanwhile, AirAsia reported that its first service from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi on Sept 16 under the tourism bubble recorded a 100% flight load.

AirAsia Malaysia chief executive officer Riad Asmat said the airline sold over 200,000 seats to Langkawi in under a week.

“To facilitate this movement, we have prepared extensively and implemented robust and comprehensive health and safety protocols to ensure all of our guests can travel safely, with our 100% vaccinated crew and frontliners,” he said.

Riad added that the airline is readying itself for greater response to travel to Langkawi from tourists all around the country.

“After months of preparation, we are thrilled to get the country flying again and are ready to scale up our operations to meet overwhelming demand.

“We hope more travel bubbles will be established across the country soon in line with the accelerated vaccination roll out, and eventually across the region when it is safe to do so,” he said.

Elsewhere, Malaysia Airlines has reminded passengers to stay informed on the latest standard operating procedures for the Langkawi tourism bubble.

“Customers are to keep themselves informed of the latest SOP by the National Security Council to ensure their smooth travel,” the airline said in a statement.

Under requirement imposed by the Health Ministry, only fully vaccinated adult travellers (except for those in the enhanced movement control order areas) can travel to Langkawi; children under 18 must be accompanied by fully vaccinated parents or guardians.

It is also compulsory for passengers aged seven years old and above to undergo a Covid-19 test (RT-PCR or RTK-Antigen) prior to departure. The final permission to travel will depend on a risk assessment that includes passengers’ vaccination status and Covid-19 test results.

Malaysia Airlines also advised passengers to be at the airport four hours before the scheduled departure time.

For more information, you can head to the official websites of the airlines offering flights to Langkawi (Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Firefly and Malindo Air) or the NSC page (mkn.gov.my).

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