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KUALA LUMPUR: Air traffic rights (ATR) applications spiked by 210% year-on-year in Q2’22 driven by the reopening of Malaysia’s international borders, said the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom).

In Q2’22, the commission reported a higher application rate with a total of 32 applications submitted, comprising 28 international and four domestic routes. This reflected a 47.6% increase in ATR applications from Q1’22 and a significant 210% increase compared to the corresponding period in the previous year (Q2’21), driven by the reopening of Malaysia’s international borders in April 2022 coupled with airlines mapping out their international network to align with the reopening of international borders by other countries.

Additionally, it reported that the jump in ATR applications in Q2’22 was further supported by airlines exploring new sectors to strengthen their network, which was indicated by ATR applications for several new routes from secondary airports in Malaysia namely Johor Baru and Penang, to Asean destinations. Mavcom also highlighted greater flight capacity into Australia and New Zealand by Malaysian carriers, particularly via the fifth freedom, from Indonesia to Australia, and Australia to New Zealand.

Mavcom executive chairman Datuk Seri Saripuddin Kasim said as the country charts its way through this post-pandemic period, it remains committed to its role as a commercial and economic regulator of the Malaysian civil aviation industry.

“The aviation landscape remains challenging, but there is a healthy increase in ATR applications, which signifies the steady recovery of airlines. Furthermore, we are happy to support the decision by airlines to explore new sectors as a recovery strategy with the approval of ATR for new routes such as Penang to Denpasar, Phnom Penh and Pekanbaru as well as Johor Bahru to Phnom Penh, Pekanbaru and Kualanamu,” he said in a statement.

For the quarter under review, Mavcom approved 31 out of the 32 ATR applications received from airlines, representing a 96.8% approval rate, which was higher compared to the 95.4% approval rate reported for Q1’22. Of the 31 ATR approvals, AirAsia received the highest number of approvals totalling 11 ATR, followed by Batik Air Malaysia and AirAsia X, which received seven and six ATR approvals respectively. Both MY Jet Xpress Airlines and Raya Airways were awarded three ATR each, and MABKargo was awarded one ATR approval.

Meanwhile, the cargo sector saw a slight decline with cargo ATR comprising only 29% of total ATR issued in Q2’22 as compared to the cargo ATR awarded in Q2’21, which represented 90% of overall ATR awarded. The commission attributed the reduction to the revival of passenger services which brought with it belly space cargo capacity. Additionally, cargo air freight rates had also fallen from their record high rates in December 2021. However, it notes that cargo air freight rates remain higher than the pre-Covid-19 rates and the lack of cargo capacity in certain markets continues to signal potential growth in the cargo sector.

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