PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is poised to be Asia Pacific’s preferred air cargo hub with the operation of Cainiao Aeropolis eWTP (electronic World Trade Platform) Hub, which was officially launched today.

The global e-fulfilment hub is a result of the eWTP partnership between the Malaysian government and Alibaba Group, with the establishment of a joint venture company between Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd and China’s Alibaba Group. The hub will transform Malaysia into a regional distribution centre for e-commerce and is expected to generate a cumulative gross domestic product of RM4.2 billion in the next 10 years and support over 35,000 jobs. The eWTP Hub has been in operation since November 2020.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, when launching the hub, said the Malaysian freight and logistics market is expected to reach more than US$55 billion (RM228 billion) by 2026, with the new economy being a strong contributing factor, compared to US$37.6 billion in 2020.

“The Cainiao Aeropolis eWTP Hub will be a game changer for Malaysia as the Asia-Pacific hub for regional distribution and e-commerce logistics with huge benefits such as its strategic location within the Free Commercial Zone with airside access where value-added activities such as break-bulking and light assembly are also permitted.”

Malaysia Airports chairman Datuk Seri DiRaja Zambry Abd Kadir said its aim is to gain leadership in e-commerce logistics and establish Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) as a preferred regional distribution hub within the Asia Pacific.

“Air cargo has shown great resilience in the past two years, which is a silver lining for us in the aviation industry in mitigating the impact of the pandemic. Therefore, the establishment of the eWTP Hub was indeed timely and we believe that it will also serve the aspirations of the 12th Malaysia Plan by enhancing the competitiveness of our transport and logistics sectors through its efficiency, connectivity, and smart supply chain and logistics technology.

“This will further contribute towards improving air cargo handling processes, increasing air cargo volume and enhancing cross-border trade for the nation. All these efficiencies will allow cargo volume at KLIA to double to 1.3 million metric tons within the next 10 years.”

Wan Lin, CEO of Alibaba Group’s logistics arm Cainiao Network, said as a core component within the e-fulfilment ecosystem, Cainiao Aeropolis eWTP Hub provides crucial logistics support for major events such as the upcoming 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, enabling Malaysian businesses and consumers to benefit from enhanced logistics efficiency and stability.

Since the commencement of the hub last year, Cainiao has onboarded freighter airlines such as Kargo Express to operate directly from the hub. This has culminated in the launch of more international and domestic routes for charter and scheduled flight operations, thereby enhancing air connectivity and air freight stability to support growing demand for air cargo transportation.

GTR and Pos Aviation are also operating directly in the hub, improving cargo handling efficiency for both shippers and consignees.

Cargo clearance time has been reduced from four hours to within 2.5 hours upon delivery from aircraft.

Situated on a 60-acre plot of land within KLIA’s vast 10km by 10km landbank, Cainiao Aeropolis eWTP Hub boasts 1.1 million sq ft of warehouse space that houses facilities for cargo terminal operations, warehousing, sorting, and dedicated customs clearance that is backed by a first-of-its-kind innovative digital customs clearance system, capable of reducing clearance time from 24-48 hours to 1.5 hours. This has been made possible by the Royal Malaysian Customs Department through the establishment of satellite operations and an administrative office away from their main base in KLIA, allowing for more rapid cargo clearance, while ensuring onsite supervision.

The hub targets vertical markets including automotive, sporting goods, fast-moving fashion and lifestyle, retail electronics and medical equipment sectors, among others. More importantly, the facility enables 24-hour and 72-hour deliveries within Malaysia and to the rest of the world respectively as part of its efforts towards supporting the country’s economic recovery and increasing trade flows in the broader region.