PETALING JAYA: The aviation sector is reeling from the Covid-19 outbreak, with local airports registering a 23.4% decline in traffic volume to 6.2 million passengers over the same period last year.
This compares with a 6.6% growth to 8.9 million passengers recorded in January.
“The decline in traffic performance seen in the last week of January 2020 continued and heightened in the month of February 2020 as expected in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak,” according to Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd’s filing with the stock exchange.
International and domestic sector recorded 2.9 million and 3.3 million passenger movements, a drop of 29.6% and 16.8% respectively over the same corresponding period last year.
Asean and non-Asean passenger movements fell 26.2% and 32.9% with 1.5 million and 1.4 million passenger movements. Overall aircraft movements increased 0.2%.
Overall average load factor was 59.2%, a decline of 17.2 percentage points over February 2019.
Meanwhile, MAHB’s network of airports (including Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport) recorded 8.9 million passengers in February, 16.7% lower than the same month a year ago.
International and domestic sector registered 4.0 million and 4.9 million passengers, representing a decline of 21.3% and 12.6% respectively.
For the international sector, MAHB said there was a reduction of 1,380 flight movements compared to February 2019. On a weekly basis, 2,935 less flight movements for both the international and domestic sector were recorded in the last week of February 2020 against January 2020.
“A similar scenario was observed during the SARS outbreak in 2003 where there was a sharp decline in traffic on the first month of impact which continued to peak for the following two months. The decline in traffic due to the SARS outbreak continued for several months and eventually picked up when the decline in infected cases reduced and travel confidence resumed,“ it explained.
Despite the outbreak, it said airlines are trying to fill up seats by offering attractive low fare packages to attract travellers.
MAHB also noted that most of the regions registered a double-digit decline in passenger movements except for the Middle East and South Asia regions, which registered a marginal growth for February 2020.
On a last trailing 12-month basis, the total MAHB network registered 4.3% growth with 140.2 million passenger movements. Overall aircraft movements increased 1.1%.
Earlier, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned that the coronavirus epidemic could cost passenger airlines up to US$ 113 billion (RM470.36 billion) in lost revenue this year.