SEPANG: Airlines and airport operators in Malaysia need to continuously look for ways to expand their businesses beyond traditional markets to stay agile and competitive, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said.

He hoped industry players will actively pursue new connectivities between Malaysia and other countries besides China, South Korea and Turkiye.

“I am sure airlines are trying to look for many destinations that are opening up in other countries at the moment,” he said during the “CAPA Think Tank: A Meeting of the Mind” session held in conjunction with Centre for Aviation Asia Aviation Summit and Sustainability Awards 2023 today.

Loke said the need is crucial as the recovery of tourist arrivals in almost all regional markets stand at 70% to 80% of pre-Covid levels, except for China.

“I think China is still challenging because of the slower opening up of the Chinese market, and in terms of Chinese tourist arrivals, we have not seen (their arrivals) to the level before 2019.

“During the pre-2019 period, we have seen the arrival of three million Chinese tourists in Malaysiaand right now, we are probably (registering) just over one million,” he said.

Earlier in his opening remarks, Loke said the government recognises the requirement for collaboration, investment in research and development and incentives to boost the production and adoption of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

“The Transport Ministry is presently developing an aviation decarbonisation roadmap, and collaboration with the aviation industry will be crucial,” he said.

Loke noted that the Plantation and Commodities Ministry has been tasked with developing investment incentives for SAF production and infrastructure, as well as a comprehensive framework for long-term blending mandates.

“We are committed to a holistic approach to aviation sustainability, including technical efficiency and expertise, technological improvements and market-based measures,” he added. – Bernama