Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pemanjangan landasan Lapangan Terbang Melaka tidak libatkan pengambilan tanah perumahan berhampiran

MELAKA: Kerja memanjangkan landasan Lapangan Terbang Melaka (LTM) di Batu Berendam di sini yang dijangka dilaksanakan tahun depan, tidak melibatkan pengambilan tanah di kawasan perumahan atau perindustrian berhampiran.

Ketua Menteri Datuk Seri Idris Haron berkata projek sepanjang kira-kira 500 meter (m) itu akan melibatkan tanah milik Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad (MAHB), selepas mengambil kira laporan teknikal daripada Jabatan Penerbangan Awam dan sebuah syarikat perunding.

"Kerajaan negeri telah memilih pilihan kedua iaitu melaksanakan kerja pemanjangan landasan LTM tanpa mengambil tanah di kawasan perumahan seperti Taman Seri Bayan dan Taman Angkasa Nuri atau kawasan perindustrian berhampiran.

"Berdasarkan laporan itu, pemanjangan berkenaan iaitu 350m melibatkan tanah milik MAHB menghala ke Bandar Raya Melaka, manakala 150m lagi melibatkan tanah menghala ke Durian Tunggal," katanya selepas mempengerusikan mesyuarat Exco kerajaan negeri di sini, hari ini.

Mengulas lanjut, beliau berkata kerja pemanjangan berkenaan yang melibatkan kos RM70 juta itu bertujuan membolehkan pesawat A320 dan Boeing 747-400 mendarat dan berlepas di LTM pada masa hadapan.

Pada masa sama, katanya kerja menaik taraf LTM termasuk pembesaran bangunan dan pembaikan jalan di laluan masuk premis tersebut juga dijangka dilaksanakan tahun depan.

Dalam perkembangan lain, Idris berkata LTM bakal menerima penerbangan dua hala antara Melaka-Bandung menerusi syarikat penerbangan Indonesia Xpress Air dalam masa terdekat.

Beliau berkata buat permulaan penerbangan berkenaan dijangka beroperasi tiga kali seminggu dan ia akan bergantung pada permintaan pelancong di kedua-dua destinasi pelancongan itu.

"Secara dasarnya, usaha ini akan dapat direalisasikan dalam masa terdekat dan kini ia dalam kajian Xpress Air. Penerbangan ini dilihat dapat merancakkan sektor pelancongan Melaka pada masa akan datang," katanya.

Sumber: Bernama | 25 Jan. 2017

MAHB to introduce free transfer service from KLIA 1 to KLIA 2

SEPANG: Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) will soon introduce the KLIA - KLIA 2 terminal bus transfer service to its passengers for free.

MAHB Managing Director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali (pix) said the service was part of the company's initiatives to enhance the total airport experience (TAE) whereby all passengers could register at the counter in the terminal upon their arrival to get the service.

"Before this, passengers have the options either to use train or taxi to transfer from one terminal to another terminal," he told the media at Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA Media Day here, today.

He said the initiative was part of MAHB's efforts to promote the growth of its airline partners seeking to grow their transfer passenger numbers.

"Since the opening of KLIA 2, transfers between KLIA and KLIA 2 had tripled from our original 2015 estimate of 0.5 million to 1.5 million passengers," he added.

Badlisham said the airport operator is now planning to introduce the airside transfer check-in service.

"The initial plan is to cater to the local passengers who take domestic flights and then fly to another international destination without checking out their bags at the first terminal," he added.

He said the company would soon start discussions with other airlines to measure the mechanisms including cost and liability that might occur in providing the service.

On another development, he said MAHB had achieved 29 initiatives to reimagine the TAE.

"We have allocated about RM50 million to achieve all 60 initiatives by 2020 as part of plans to position ourself as one of the world's most successful and versatile airport companies," he said.

Badlisham said to further enhance its initiatives, MAHB would also introduce another service called KUL VIP Access soon.

"The service will be a collaboration between MAHB and our airline partners and other service providers such as Plaza Premium Lounge, Airport Limo, ERL Ekspres," he added.

Source: Bernama | 24 Jan. 2017

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Firefly sees 11% drop in passenger numbers this year

Ong: ‘Due to the weakening of the ringgit, there has been a 30 increase in our overall costs,’
Carrier coming up with innovative products to improve demand

PETALING JAYA: Premium short-haul carrier Firefly Airlines is forecasting a decline in its passenger numbers this year due to the lower demand amid a soft consumer market.

The Malaysia Airlines subsidiary is expecting an 11.1% drop in the number of passengers to 1.6 million for 2017 from around 1.8 million people in 2016.

According to Firefly Airlines CEO Ignatius Ong, the market would remain challenging for the group this year due to the lower household disposal income for discretionary travel and weak ringgit.

He said the industry had already been negatively impacted since the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) in 2015.

“We came out of 2016 with a much softer market, and I think, for this year, we will adopt a more prudent estimation of about 1.6 million passengers,” Ong told reporters yesterday at the official launch of the group’s new product called FY e-wallet.

While the depreciation of the ringgit depreciation would be good in attracting foreign tourists to Malaysia, Ong said, the weak ringgit had made it more expensive for Malaysians to travel to other countries.

Furthermore, he pointed out, the weakening of the ringgit had significantly affected local carriers such as Firefly, as most of their costs were denominated in US dollar, while revenues were in ringgit.

“Due to the weakening of the ringgit, there has been a 30% increase in our overall costs, not because we are inefficient, but because we have to pay more at the US dollar cost base,” Ong explained.

He added that he hoped that the ringgit would strengthen to a more “sustainable level”.

Firefly would maintain its current capacity with 12 aircraft for 2017, after having taken out six planes from its fleet of 18 planes in November last year.

In our first seven years of operation, we had a load factor of about 75% which allowed us to grow. But now, with a load factor of only about 60%, we had to cut our capacity by six aircraft due to the decrease in demand,” Ong said.

“When we see our load factor recover to around 70% to 75%, we may then press for one or two more aircraft into operation,” he added.

As part of a measure to improve demand for its services, Ong said, Firefly had to come up with innovative products such as the FY e-wallet.

The FY e-wallet is a new cashless and convenient method for consumers to purchase tickets without the hassle of unsuccessful transactions and to give consumers an added bonus amount from Firefly based on the amount category purchased from the airline.

Travellers can expect to get an additional bonus amount of up to 25% based on their purchase category of RM1,000, RM5,000 or RM10,000.

The amount validity is three months for the RM1,000 deposit and six months for the balance.

“We want to deliver value to our customers and we hope the e-wallet will entice more people to fly with us,” Ong said.

Since its soft launch in early December last year, FY e-wallet had achieved sales of about RM1mil.

Ong said Firefly aimed to achieve FY e-wallet sales of between RM10mil and RM15mil from its registered members of close to 500,000.

Source: The Star | Business | 21 Jan. 2017

Friday, January 13, 2017

Malaysia Airlines to order 25 widebodies in 2017

Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) has returned to expansion mode and plans to order 25 widebody aircraft by the end of the year, according to chief executive Peter Bellew.

Fifteen of the new batch of airplanes would replace the existing fleet of 15 leased Airbus A330-300s, while the other 10 aircraft would allow for expansion. Bellew told AIN ​in an interview that the order competition pits either the Airbus A330neo or A330-300 against the Boeing 787. Delivery would start in the third quarter of 2018 and run through 2023, during about the same time as the existing A330-300s' leases expire.

The carrier wants to configure the aircraft in a two-class, business and economy layout as opposed to a three-class arrangement including premium economy, a seating class that has proved unpopular in the Malaysian market. It plans to use the 10 growth aircraft for route upgrades to Indian cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore, all on which the airline downsized equipment from the 777-200ER to the 737-800 following its disposal of the Boeing widebodies. Bellew said the 10 aircraft will also allow for the option of resuming some canceled European routes.

“Market conditions have to be right before we start flying to Europe again; I do not see this happening before the 2019-2021 time frame,” Bellew noted.

London, which remains the only European destination on MAB’s network, gets twice-daily service with Airbus A380s. Malaysia Airlines plans to replace the superjumbos with Airbus A350-900s starting in April 2018. MAB has leased six A350-900s from Air Lease Corp., of the U.S. under a 12-year agreement.

The airline plans to reconfigure its six A380s to seat 700 and use them for flights to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for Muslim pilgrims and possibly lease them out for charters. The operation will involve another company established and owned by MAB. Bellew said he is now talking with Airbus about reconfiguring the aircraft, including the upper deck, to seat 700 passengers.

Bellow also said he hopes MAB’s plan to lease four more A330-300s to fill short-term capacity needs will materialize soon.

Malaysia plans to launch flights to seven destinations in China this year, starting with Nanjing, Fuzhou and Shenzhen in April followed by Wuhan in August and Chengdu and Chongqing in October. It expects to announce flights to Tianjin within the next few months. Plans for April also call for the introduction of a new route, namely Penang-Shanghai, and a doubling of service on the daily Kuala Lumpur-Shanghai service. MAB’s other China destinations now encompass Beijing, Guangzhou, Haikou and Xiamnen.

Bellew expressed confidence that MAB will return to profitability in 2018 despite stiff competition from compatriots Malindo Air and AirAsia on domestic and regional flights. For MAB, passenger loads have improved significantly after a pair of high-profile crashes in 2014 forced the airline into bankruptcy.

“Regaining market confidence is a boost and with flights recording 90 percent-plus [load factors] are indications of better times to come,” Bellew concluded.
Source: AIN Online | | 9 Jan. 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

MAHB records 5.7% increase in passenger traffic

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) registered 118.5 million passenger movement in 2016, up 5.7%, from 2015.

In a statement, the airports operator said international traffic rose 6.1% to 52.8 million passengers while domestic traffic recorded 65.7 million passenger traffic with a 5.4% growth compared with the same period in 2015.

“Overall aircraft movement grew 0.9% with international and domestic movement registering a growth of 1.5% and 0.6%, respectively,” it said.

Airports in Malaysia registered 88.8 million in passenger movement, a growth of 6.0% over 2015.

The international sector recorded a 8.0% improvement in passenger movement to 43.2 million over 2015.

Domestic traffic, on the other hand, recorded 45.6 million passenger movement, an improvement of 4.1%, over the same period in 2015. Kota Kinabalu, Penang, Langkawi, Alor Setar, Ipoh, Tawau and Mulu were among the airports that registered strong increase in traffic last year.

MAHB said the traffic growth of 6.0% last year was an indication of continuing latent demand for air travel.

“It is encouraging to note that international passenger growth momentum has picked up in the second half of 2016, improving from 5.0% in the first half to 11.0% in the second half,” it added.

MAHB said passenger traffic in 2017 was expected to continue to perform well in view of the upward trend in the second half of 2016.
Source: Bernama | 11 Jan. 2017

M’sia Airports posts 6% jump in passenger traffic, KLIA passes 50 million mark

Annual passenger traffic at the KL International Airport exceeded 50 million for the first time last year, reaching 52.62 million passengers.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) recorded a 6% growth in passenger traffic at its airports in the country last year to 88.83 million passengers, with the KL International Airport (KLIA) surpassing the 50-million mark for the first time.

In a statement to Bursa Malaysia, the airport operator said 43.2 million international passengers passed through MAHB airports in Malaysia in 2016, representing an 8% jump.

Growth in domestic traffic was lower at 4.1% to 45.59 million passengers.

“International passenger growth momentum year-on-year picked up in the second half of 2016, improving from 5% in the first half to 11% in the second half,” MAHB noted

For KLIA, passenger traffic grew by 7.5% to 52.62 million. The main terminal (KLIA Main) handled 25.5 million passengers, 12.8% higher than in 2015; while KLIA2 handled 27.1 million, a 3% growth from the previous year.

The growth at KLIA Main was contributed by the transfer of Malindo Air and Lion Air from KLIA2 to KLIA Main, said MAHB.

Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport (Istanbul SGIA), which MAHB has wholly owned for two full years, handled 29.6 million passengers in 2016, an increase of 4.8% over the previous year.

The Malaysian and Istanbul airports -- the MAHB system of airports -- had a combined passenger movements of 118.48 million last year, an annual growth of 5.7%.

“All the five international airports in Malaysia grew between 3% and 13.6%, and 11 of the 21 international and domestic airports posted growth ranging from 1% to 21%. This growth was achieved despite capacity reduction by Malaysia Airlines and its subsidiary, Firefly as part of its restructuring process,” MAHB said.

According to MAHB, its Malaysian airports are expected to continue to perform well in terms of passenger traffic this year in view of the upward trend in the second half of 2016.

“Seat capacity offered by airlines for the immediate future does provide a positive outlook for 2017,” it said.

However, the company expects passenger growth prospects for Istanbul SGIA to remain subdued.
Source: The Star | Business | 10 Jan. 2017

Monday, January 2, 2017

Discounted airfares to dominate airlines sector this year

MAS' Peter Bellew left and Malindo's Chandran Rama Muthy(right inset. (This year, the three carriers – AirAsia group, Malaysia Airlines Bhd and Malindo Air – are expected to add 40 new aircraft to their current fleet, a move that will see an estimated 7,000 new seats to the system that is already facing over-capacity.)
PETALING JAYA: Discounted airfares for travellers are likely to dominate the aviation sector this year as the three large local carriers slug it out for market share.

Last year, airlines saw their profits rise despite the stiff competition that saw a lot of ticket prices slashed.

This year, the three carriers – AirAsia group, Malaysia Airlines Bhd and Malindo Air – are expected to add 40 new aircraft to their current fleet, a move that will see an estimated 7,000 new seats to the system that is already facing over-capacity.

Despite the stiff competition ahead, the local airline chief executives are bullish about their financial prospects, contrary to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecast that global airline profits for 2017 will be US$29.8bil, US$6bil lower than 2016’s US$35bil forecast.

“It is going to be a pretty good year especially with the weak ringgit (though) higher fuel prices,’’ said AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.

AirAsia has hedged a substantial amount of its fuel requirement for 2017 at lower prices, hence the optimism.

Malaysia Airlines Bhd CEO Peter Bellew in being optimistic about the year said it would focus primarily on the demands of travellers.

A big focus for 2017 is fly to places where people want to go and where we can make money,’’ he said.

Bellew added that the big focus in 2017 will be China, where they will add 11 new destinations.

“We will also take a hard look at the loss-making routes amid fuel prices rising and the weakening ringgit,’’ he said.

Malindo Air CEO Chandran Rama Muthy said “we may look into international expansion than expanding in the already crowded domestic space and this will be good for tourism and the country’’.

Chandran expected passenger numbers to grow to 10 million in 2017 and the airline strengthening its flight frequencies.

Malindo has a fleet of 42 aircraft and with 10 new aircraft, it will have 1.2 million seats on offer every month.

AirAsia group offers millions of seats in several markets monthly and will add 28 new aircraft this year.

Malaysia Airlines is still looking to add A330 aircraft after phasing out the B777, but will take delivery of the A350, which will be used for its London flight from October onwards.

AirAsia X is expected to fly back to London via Gatwick sometime in July. With the bitter battle ahead, Fernandes expects “competition to be bleeding”.

Bellew predicted fares will drop to crazy levels in the second half of 2017 and right through to 2018.

“Malaysia Airlines will avoid the worst of the fare cuts and there really can only be one winner in what I think will be the greatest battles in aviation history among low-cost airlines,” he said.

Higher oil cost will affect airlines, and so will the new hike in passenger service charges for travellers.

IATA estimates fuel to account for 18.7% of the global industry’s cost structure in 2017, still lower than the 33.2% in 2012-2013. It expects jet fuel prices rising from US$52.1 a barrel (2016) to US$64.9 a barrel (2017). By March, when the prices will go above US$65 a barrel, it can be a bit painful for the airlines.

Bellew expects oil prices to hit US$70 by year-end.

But travel trade will remain vogue amid all the challenges as Expedia in association with several other parties believes that falling ticket prices and surging capacity suggests that “2017 could be a banner year for travellers taking to the skies, with more options to fly to more destinations for lower prices.

Moody’s Investors Service 2017 says in its global transportation industry review that “growth in passenger demand will remain slow overall, due to lacklustre global economic growth, geopolitical uncertainties and the threat of terrorism, but increasing demand in developing markets, supported by rising disposable incomes and loosening regulations, will act as an offset”.

Amidst the competition, AirAsia shareholders may be rewarded this year with the expected stake sale of its leasing arm and the planned IPOs of its units in the Philippines, Indonesia and group company in Hong Kong.

But a warning note from a local analyst is that the record profit the Malaysian airline industry enjoyed last year was unlikely to be repeated this year.

The industry would be bogged down by the weaker ringgit, higher oil prices, intense competition with the likes of Malaysia Airlines, Malindo, AirAsia and AirAsia X all expanding simultaneously and airport tax hikes.

“Malindo has added a significant number of planes the past six months, and the winner will be the airport operator, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), due to volume gains,” according to the analyst.

Source: The Star | Business | 2 Jan. 2017

JB to start new direct flights to Shenzhen, Jakarta

The Shenzhen - Johor Bahru service is the second flight linking Johor with China. Photo from China's Spring Airlines Facebook page. 
JOHOR BAHRU: China's Spring Airlines, with the cooperation of Malaysia Airlines, will start flying to Shenzhen from the Senai International Airport (LTAS) here starting Jan 13. 

Johor Tourism, Trade and Consumerism Committee Chairman Datuk Tee Siew Kiong said the charter service on Mondays and Fridays will cater to the growing number of Chinese travellers to the city.

"The service to Shenzhen is introduced following positive response to AirAsia's Johor Bahru-Guangzhou flights since May last year. 

"The Shenzhen-Johor Bahru service is the second flight linking Johor with China. Hence, we expect an increase in the number of Chinese visitors to Johor this year," Tee told reporters here today. 

He said the flight leaves Shenzhen at 6.50pm and arrives in Johor Bahru at 10.40pm, while the flight from Johor Bahru departs at 11.40pm and arrives in Shenzhen at 3.50am the following day. (There is no time difference between Shenzhen and Johor Bahru). 

Meanwhile, Tee said AirAsia will start its Johor Bahru-Jakarta flights on Jan 12, and fly thrice weekly on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. 

The flight departs Jakarta at 8.50pm (Indonesian time) and arrives in Johor Bahru at 11.40pm, while the flight from Johor Bahru leaves at 7.30pm and arrives in Jakarta at 8.20pm (Indonesian time). 

The new flights from Johor Bahru to Shenzhen and Jakarta are timely, as both China and Indonesia are among the three major markets for Johor's tourism industry, Tee said, adding that they will also help boost Johor's economy and trade. 

The state government, in collaboration with LTAS, strives towards developing Johor Bahru as a significant southern peninsular aviation hub, as the airport currently operates 14 routes, comprising seven domestic and seven international flights, he added.

Source: Bernama | 1 Jan. 2017