PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) expects the domestic aviation industry to restart in fourth quarter 2021 (Q4’21) and to return to pre-pandemic levels in end-2022, while the international market is projected to fully recover only in mid-2023 or 2024.

Group COO Ahmad Luqman Mohd Azmi said its Long-Term Business Plan (LTBP 2.0) was launched during the pandemic and took into consideration certain projections of recovery. The group started its restructuring in March.

“We are in full gear to implement LTBP 2.0 and we are on track (to recovery),” he told reporters during a Virtual Airline101 session by Malaysia Airlines and Civil Aviation Authority Malaysia (CAAM) today.

He said the group started the Firefly operation briefly in May, but it had to be deferred as the commencement coincided with MCO 3.0.

“We will restart the Firefly commercial jet operation in early first quarter next year as part of the recovery of the domestic business.”

Ahmad Luqman said the Air Operator Certificates of Firefly, MASwings, and Amal were recently renewed after an extensive audit by CAAM.

He said MAB’s operations have reduced significantly in a comparison between 2021 and 2019.

“Eight out of nine major daily operations are on a declining trend except for cargo shipments that grew 12% to 730,000 shipments from 1,100 in 2019. Other daily operations including passengers served down 97% to 1,000 from 38,000; flights coordinated down 95% from 290 to 15,” he said during the presentation.

The airline industry is important to the growth of a nation, Ahmad Luqman said.

“The Malaysian airline industry supported half a million of jobs and contributed to over 3% of total GDP. The industry facilitates trade and tourism growth, serves as a national identity also known as ‘Embassy on Wings’, and support job creation,” he added.

CAAM CEO Captain Chester Voo said that in spite of the pandemic, aviation safety is not compromised and must not be compromised and CAAM has moved every audit and inspection method online.

“In preparation for the aviation industry to restart post Covid-19, CAAM will focus on people training to ensure airline staff be will be able to carry out their tasks smoothly post-pandemic and familiar with the new national guidelines introduced by CAAM to facilitate and support the operations of airlines and operators.

“The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has recommended comprehensive Covid-19 guidelines. Malaysia is one of the three member states that adopt and implement 100% of the guidelines, other states are Singapore and Republic of Korea. CAAM has adopted the ICAO guidelines in line with Transport Ministry policies and directions and the local requirements from Health Ministry,” Voo said.

He said the local aviation industry complies with 93.4% of the CAAM guidelines, adding that it is a good compliance rate given that it is the first time of this adoption.

Voo said CAAM did video conferencing audit, conducted approval over video conferencing as it was in transition towards digitalisation.

“Moving forward, to serve the industry better, there is no compromise to the way of the methodology related to safety and security survelliance.

“CAAM would like to simplfy the process through technology, we are working on licensing method, how to move to e-licensing method where we can cut time, effort, and required paperwork without taking away medical check, simulator check and anything that is required by the regulation for airline to continue to be certified and to remain in operation.”