KUCHING: In spite of passenger slowdown cause by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), a bright spot for Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd (MAHB) came in the form of its Istanbul Sabiha Gocken Airport (ISGA) which reached a record performance in January this year.
Figures showed that ISGA’s international traffic reached a record performance, as total passenger traffic for the month increased by 6.1 per cent year on year (y-o-y) to reach 2.9 million in January 2020.
“In terms of international passenger traffic, the segment surged 24.4 per cent y-o-y to 1.2 million passengers during the same month,” observed analysts at MIDF Amanah Investment Bank Bhd (MIDF Research) in a sector outlook yesterday.
“Meanwhile, domestic traffic in ISGA declined by 3.8 per cent y-o-y to reach 1.7 million passengers. This came as a result of the impact of Pegasus’ route restructuring which began somewhere in the middle of the first half of 2019.”
Comparatively, MIDF Research saw that the Istabul airport experienced no decline in passenger traffic during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak back in 2003.
“But a more meaningful comparison would be during the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 2012 due to ISGA’S closer proximity to the Middle East.
“Even then, passenger traffic at ISGA stood resilient during the MERS-CoV period, growing by 8.6 per cent y-o-y in 2012. In addition, ISGA’s has no direct impact to Asean (excluding Malaysia via Malaysia Airlines), South Asia and North Asia as most of its flights are for Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
“Therefore, the exposure that ISGA has towards the coronavirus could come from Europe (via France, Russia and Germany) and the United Arab Emirates,” it opined.
“Nevertheless, latest statistics indicate that confirmed cases in these countries are at a contained level. As for Turkey, therehave been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus at the moment.
“Therefore we believe the current momentum of passenger traffic at ISGA to maintain at its current pace.”
On other corporate updates, a route transfer from Turkish Airlines to AnadoluJet will bring additional Passenger Service Charge (PSC) collection for ISGA.
According to a document released by Turkish’s Civil Aviation Directorate in mid-January 2020, requests for additional routes using ISGA would no longer be approved.
MIDF research said such measures will direct passengers and airline companies to the Istanbul airport instead of ISGA.
Notwithstanding this, Turkish’s national carrier, Turkish Airlines has filed inventory changes for summer 2020 season (late March 2020) as it confirmed the transfer of all international flights at ISGA to its fully-owned subsidiary AnadoluJet, as well as selected international routes.
“We understand that Turkish Airlines operates either the Airbus A320 or the Boeing 737- 800 which has a seat capacity ranging from 153 to 150 passengers.
“Meanwhile, AnadoluJet will fly the new international routes with its Boeing 737-800 with a full-economy class set configuration of 189 seats. Therefore, the capacity offered by AnadoluJet could be beneficial in terms of higher collection of PSCs from departing passengers.
“Based on our analysis on the routes transferred to AnadoluJet and assuming load factor 0f 82 per cent, we expect an additional 3.2 million euros worth of PSC (excluding transfer PSC) to be collected in FY20.”