Airport MD Speak


Dato’ Iskandar Mizal Mahmood Managing Director Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad

Dato’ Iskandar Mizal Mahmood returns to Malaysia Airports after almost 20 years with his wealth of experience gleaned from many multinationals and government-linked companies to elevate and transform Malaysia Airports in the fast-changing aviation landscape with new travel norms and innovative technological advances.

This month, he views the continued strong pent- up demand for travel among inbound and domestic tourists to Malaysia with optimism for the aviation industry as low-cost carrier Citilink, a subsidiary of Garuda Indonesia, adds yet another route to Malaysia almost within the space of one month. Additionally, Malaysia Airlines’ recent renewal of its five-year partnership with SITA, the air transport industry information technology provider, is expected to strengthen the latter’s global operations link to the national carrier’s hub at KL International Airport (KLIA) besides ensuring faster, more secured and reliable network connectivity.

The gradual and sustained recovery of our aviation industry is written in the skies as can be seen in the return of more airlines to our airports. Shortly after opening its Medan-Penang route on June 10, Citilink has recommenced its daily direct flights from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur (KL) on July 15 using the Airbus A320 with a seating capacity for 180 passengers.

With Indonesian-based Lion Air Group’s recently receiving its first batch of eight leased Boeing 737 MAX to join the rebranded fleet of Batik Air Malaysia, formerly Malindo Air, this will not only improve Batik Air’s product offerings and operations but also expand its destination reach with the expected delivery of nine more MAXs by year-end.

Besides launching its services from KL to Phuket on Aug 1, Surabaya on Aug 10 and Ho Chi Minh on September 15, Batik Air also plans to start flights from Penang and Melaka respectively to Pekan Baru from August 12.

With more air connectivity being added at Penang International Airport, the number of international flights to the island state has increased tremendously by 783% from 12 weekly flights in January to 106 in July, thus making this airport the second highest after KLIA.

We also view Malaysia Airlines’ five-year deal, which leverages on SITA Connect, to help airlines lower connectivity costs
while improving their quality of service and security, among other things, to benefit the air transport industry as a whole. The airline, which began its KL-Doha flights in May, is doubling them to twice daily from August 1 to October 29, in view of its growing relationship via code-share with its oneworld member, Qatar Airways.

In the light of flights’ resurgence and tourist arrivals into Malaysia following the opening of its international borders, the country’s international arrival target is likely to be revised upwards in September to exceed 4.5 million arrivals.

We welcome the recent easing of travel procedures for Malaysian inbound travellers where they are no longer required to fill the Traveller’s Pass feature in the MySejahtera application effective July 4 in tandem with Malaysia’s improved public health situation. According to the Health Ministry, this requirement will be gradually extended to those with social passes, student visas and permanent residence. However, foreigners entering Malaysia must continue to provide their details to the Traveller’s Pass in MySejahtera before entering the country.

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