GEORGE TOWN: Airlines, grounded over the past two months, are hoping to take off again.
They cited a significant reduction in new Covid-19 cases as reason to lift the restrictions on air travel in and out of the country.
An executive with AirAsia said the low-cost carrier would be ready to fly as soon as the conditional movement control order is lifted.
AirAsia currently flies some domestic and regional routes but mostly for essential travel only. These flights are to ferry students and government officials home from abroad, especially from countries that are still struggling to contain the pandemic.
Another domestic low-cost carrier, Malindo Air, now focuses on domestic flights but hope to resume flights to regional destinations soon.
“We are just waiting for the government to give us the green light,” said its communications manager Suresh Vanan.
He said most of the flights in the past month had been to ferry those left stranded by the pandemic.
Qatar Airways told theSun yesterday that the frequency of its flights to Kuala Lumpur had been reduced significantly.
“We used to have three flights a day to Kuala Lumpur but now it’s down to five a week,” said its country manager for Malaysia and Brunei, Datuk Muzammil Mohamad.
The airline now flies to 80 destinations worldwide, down from 170 before the pandemic.
But even if the restrictions on air travel is lifted, there are other challenges. Passengers arriving in Malaysia are now required to undergo a 14-day quarantine before they are allowed into the country, a factor that would discourage visitors.
According to Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd, there are fewer than 10 international flights coming into the KL International Airport (KLIA) per day now. Most of them are from regional destinations, as well as from Doha and London.
Most airlines have reduced their flights by as much as 70%. Previously, there were as many as 50 incoming flights a day into KLIA.
Eric R. Sinnaya, an activist in the travel industry, urged authorities and industry players to use the current lull to retrain staff and to come up with new ideas to market eco-tourism attractions in Malaysia.
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