AirAsia’s growth boosts Malaysia’s airports; Firefly gets 737s; still no US flights from Kuala Lumpur

Back in November, AirAsia’s Ashok Kumar, regional director, strategy, airport & planning,  explained to  that January promises to be a busy month for the airline, with the introduction of two new bases – in Medan (Indonesia) and Chiang Mai (Thailand). Meanwhile, speaking at the Check-In Asia event, Malaysia Airlines’ managing director & CEO, Azmil Zahruddin, outlined that MAS will boast the youngest fleet in the region by 2015.

As the home of AirAsia, Asia’s largest (and most profitable) low-cost carrier, Malaysia can legitimately claim to be the birthplace of low-cost aviation in Asia. In 2009, total passenger numbers across Malaysia’s airports passed 50 million for the first time, with Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport KLIA (which opened in 1998) accounting for around 58% of all passengers.

Source: Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad

Source: Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad

Traffic continues to grow in 2010. In the third quarter of last year, passenger numbers were up 12.5% at KLIA, with regional airport growth just over 7%. In both cases, international traffic growth was outperforming domestic traffic.

AirAsia now bigger than Malaysia Airlines at KLIA

Malaysia Airports is currently constructing the brand new KLIA 2; a low-cost carrier terminal that will initially be used exclusively by AirAsia and will be able handle 30 million annual passengers.

Malaysia Airports is currently constructing the brand new KLIA 2; a low-cost carrier terminal that will initially be used exclusively by AirAsia and will be able handle 30 million annual passengers.

According to schedule data from OAG, AirAsia now operates more flights and more seat capacity at KLIA than Malaysia Airlines, even before AirAsia X, Thai AirAsia and Indonesia AirAsia are taken into account. However, Malaysia Airlines does serve more destinations non-stop (66) from the airport than its low-cost rival. A total of 53 airlines currently offer scheduled services from KLIA including KLM and Lufthansa from Europe, but there are no US carriers present at the airport. In fact, the airport still has no direct flights to any US airport.

New services launched from KLIA in 2010 include AirAsia to Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Yangon; AirAsia X to Delhi, Mumbai, Seoul and Tokyo Haneda; Malaysia Airlines to Bandung; Oman Air to Muscat; and Royal Jordanian to Amman. AirAsia X has already announced Christchurch and Paris as new destinations for 2011.

A significant development starting this weekend is the introduction of Firefly service between KLIA and Kota Kinabalu (three daily flights) and Kuching (four daily flights) using the airline’s recently acquired 737-800s. Firefly is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines that until now has operated purely turboprop aircraft from the old Kuala Lumpur airport at Subang.

Seven other million passenger airports

Beyond Kuala Lumpur, there are seven airports which handled more than a million passengers per annum in 2009. Kota Kinabalu is the leading airport in the Malaysian region of Sabah while Kuching is the busiest airport in Sarawak.

Top 12 Malaysian regional airports Annual passengers (millions) 2008-09

Source: Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, Senai Airport

According to OAG data, there are a total of 35 airports in Malaysia with scheduled services.

Indonesia most popular international market

Kuala Lumpur handles the majority of international flights from Malaysian airports, although both Kota Kinabalu and Penang also offer a range of regional destinations. The leading international country markets from Malaysia continue to be Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and China. Since last examined the Malaysian market almost three years ago, Australia and India have both leap-frogged past Hong Kong in the rankings.

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 10 January 2011

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 10 January 2011

The top 10 country markets account for almost 80% of all international capacity. The UK (14th) just beats the Netherlands (18th) to be the leading European market, with London services being offered by Malaysia Airlines (to Heathrow) and AirAsia X (to Stansted).

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  1. Jeffrey Leong says:


    Your mentioned in the above report that KLIA does have direct flights to any US airport. Actually, that is incorrect. Malaysia Airlines has been operating from KLIA to Los Angeles. for quite a number of years and that service is still in operation. In addition, there used to be a service from KLIA to New York City (I think it was to Newark Airport but this route was taken off by Malaysia Ailines). I believe that there is some report somewhere (you need to check this to confirm as I am not sure of this) the AirAsia X may have plans also to fly from KLIA/KLCC to the US some time in the future, maybe to Oakland Airport?

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