Airline industry ready to cater to travel demand


PETALING JAYA: The impending opening of interstate travel will be a good start to a much-awaited recovery for the airline industry that has been busy packaging offers for domestic destinations and services.

AirAsia Group Airlines president Bo Lingam said “the demand is already there” as people cannot wait to reunite with family and friends or take off to their favourite leisure destinations.

“This is further spurred by the success of the Langkawi travel bubble that commenced on Sept 16.

“For Langkawi alone, AirAsia Malaysia sold over 260,000 seats in just over a week – a strong testament to the level of pent up demand for domestic travel,” he said.

“While the pandemic has delivered an unprecedented blow to the global aviation and tourism industries for the past 18 months, we remain committed to making the ‘air fair’ once again,” he added.

Following the government’s announcement of the resumption of interstate travel and the reopening of tourism activities once the vaccination rate for adults reaches 90%, he said AirAsia was all geared up to fully restore its domestic and international services.

As vaccination rates across the globe continue to rise, AirAsia anticipates interstate leisure air travel will gradually continue to reopen first, potentially in the coming weeks.

“AirAsia has expressed confidence in a strong recovery for air travel to all the key domestic destinations and for international flights to resume in the near future.

“We recorded overwhelming demand for domestic leisure destinations that have reopened recently including Langkawi in Malaysia, Boracay, Cebu and Bohol in the Philippines and Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Hat Yai in Thailand.

“Load factors for these leisure destinations have been in the very healthy range of 80% to 90% with more frequencies and routes to be added soon in line with consistently strong forward bookings,” he said.

Until further announcement on interstate travel by the government, he said those going on essential travel must obtain valid approval from the authority before departure and comply with the specific entry requirements set by certain states.

To ensure safety and as part of its Covid-19 mitigation plan, the airline has made check-in via its AirAsia super app mandatory for all guests, including undertaking numerous contactless improvements that provide for enhanced comfort and a hassle-free door-to-door experience.

Malaysia Airlines Bhd group chief marketing and customer experience officer Lau Yin May said the airline also foresees a positive trend in forward bookings that reflected customers’ confidence in travelling.

“We believe the reopening of more domestic destinations will further accelerate the recovery of the travel industry and country’s economy.

“Malaysia Airlines is delighted to continue supporting the government’s initiative to revive our domestic tourism as the country is transitioning from the pandemic to endemic phase,” she said.

In support of the reopening of more domestic destinations, Lau said Malaysia Airlines is giving the first 6,500 Malaysians a RM100 travel voucher under its Stimulus Cuti Malaysia Campaign for immediate booking and travel until Dec 31.

Lau said the airline has also implemented stringent safety protocols and the “contactless journey” feature, where passengers can travel with enhanced safety and health measures in place.

“All passengers will receive complimentary hygiene kits, which come with a face mask, hand sanitiser and sanitary wipes, hygienically packed in a sealed zip-lock pouch,” she added.

When contacted, pharmacist Farah Joned, 25, who is from Kuching, Sarawak, said she has been longing to fly home to see her parents.

“They have been living all by themselves and my dad had a fall at home late last year, I could only see him through a video call.

“They are both in their 60s and I saw them in August last year when they visited me when I was moving into my rented place before starting my new job in Shah Alam.

“The government should have allowed grown-up children to balik kampung and visit their aged parents who lived alone,” she said.

Friends Loy Mei Lin and Asfarina Salleh, who are fully vaccinated, said they are planning a short getaway after being cooped up for almost two years in Selangor.

“We have always wanted to go hiking at Bukit Kodiang in Kedah. We think this is better than a leisure trip and we can avoid crowded tourist places,” said Loy, 36.

However, Asfarina, 40, noted that being able to go on a trip does not mean one can forgo all the standard operating procedures.

“Adhering to the SOP is important even if we are allowed to travel.”

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