PETALING JAYA: In anticipation of a growing number of travellers, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is embarking on digitalisation initiatives to boost its efficiency and improve customer experience.
These initiatives include biometric facial recognition (EZPaz), self-service check-in and bag drop (EZBagz), and enhancements to the MYairports app.
“These initiatives aim to streamline processes and reduce the need for additional manpower,” Malaysia Airports’ chief operating officer Gordon Andrew Stewart (pic) told The Star.
Stewart was appointed to the role on Oct 1. He has three decades of experience in industries such as aviation, rail and information technology.
Prior to joining Malaysia Airports, he was with an Ireland-based global airport management, consulting and investment group that manages international airports around the world.
Stewart said that Malaysia Airports, under the guidance of the Malaysian Aviation Commission, has been rigorously enforcing quality of service standards for its airports, with a particular focus on KLIA’s Terminals 1 and 2.
Since September 2018, these standards have covered 28 service quality elements, of which 20 are already in effect.
Two notable metrics associated with baggage handling processes are “First Bag” and “Last Bag”, which assess the efficiency of placing baggage onto conveyor systems and moving them from the breakdown area to the baggage claim carousel.
Stewart said that rigorous targets of 85% have been established for the On-Time Performance of both First Bag and Last Bag.
These targets are assessed independently for Terminals 1 and 2, and the evaluations are conducted on the Baggage Handling System managed by Malaysia Airports and the appointed ground handlers.
Baggage retrieval times depend on the airport’s available facilities and design, he said.
“Passengers at Malaysia’s airports may experience baggage retrieval times ranging between 15 to 50 minutes.
“Several factors may extend these further, including the aircraft size, the quantity of unloaded baggage, and established baggage handling protocols,” he said.
Stewart said a dedicated committee meets weekly to review performance metrics to thoroughly uphold and enhance baggage handling standards.
This joint effort ensures that all stakeholders, including airlines, are given precise feedback on their performance, enabling them to take necessary corrective actions to improve the baggage handling process, he added.
“The ultimate goal is to bolster passenger satisfaction and operational efficiency, which remains at the core of their operating strategy,” he said.
Stewart said he is dedicating his efforts to re-establishing the airport’s standing among the top global operators to improve operational efficiency and the tourist experience.
Malaysia Airports Group recently marked a significant milestone, with over 11 million total passenger movements for the second consecutive month in August across its airports in Malaysia and Turkiye.
Malaysia accounted for more than 66% of these movements with 7.4 million passengers, while the Turkyish operations registered 3.8 million passenger movements.
The Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Turkiye is a wholly-owned asset of Malaysia Airports.
Stewart attributed this significant growth to the six state elections coinciding with an additional public holiday and the National Day celebration being aligned with school holidays.
He said this trend mirrors pre-pandemic times when passenger traffic surged during festive seasons, school breaks, and public holidays, suggesting a gradual return to standard travel patterns.
According to Transport Minister Anthony Loke, Malaysia has seen a significant increase in air passenger traffic, with a 71.7% rise in the first nine months of this year compared with last year.
From January to September, 62.83 million air passengers were reported. Of the 7.17 million passengers in September, 3.3 million were international and 3.85 million were domestic passengers.
With these burgeoning passenger numbers, Malaysia Airports is leveraging technology to enhance efficiency and customer service.
As part of its Airports 4.0 initiatives, it has upgraded networks and introduced systems like the Common Use Passenger Processing System to enable a smoother journey for travellers.
As for infrastructure, many airports nationwide are undergoing an asset replacement programme, investing about RM26.8mil to upgrade critical components.
Airports in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching are also enhancing passenger comfort through restroom refurbishments.
Simultaneously, domestic airports are optimising their terminals, introducing self-check-in kiosks, improving immigration procedures, and upgrading baggage reclaim processes.
Furthermore, a commercial revitalisation initiative is underway to expand food and beverage offerings with new brands.
These efforts have already borne fruit, as seen in the multiple awards won at the Airports Council International Customer Experience Global Summit 2023.