Friday, February 26, 2021

Cargo flights soar thanks to Covid-19

Unlike commercial flights which have been heavily affected by the various restrictions on movements, cargo flights have been busier than usual thanks to a surge in online shopping.

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At a time when most businesses are struggling to stay afloat, cargo planes are experiencing a surge in flights thanks to an increase in online shopping as movement restrictions implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19 keep many at home.

The movement control order (MCO), administered for the second time across much of the country this month, means that most people can only leave their homes for groceries and other essentials, with the majority of retail outlets prohibited from opening for business.

For those stuck at home, online shopping platforms have become the go-to replacement.

An air traffic officer at KLIA said cargo planes used to make about 50 flights a day. Now, they make about 70.

“Meanwhile, commercial flights appear to have become more limited, and only operate for those with letters of permission for work travelling to the peninsula from Sabah and Sarawak,” he told MalaysiaNow in exchange for anonymity.

The officer, who has worked in the industry for 14 years, added that the increase in cargo flights is a positive development.

He said demand for cargo flights had gone up two-fold since Covid-19 hit Malaysian shores last year.

“Before this, nine officers would be stationed to monitor air traffic but because of the MCO, only five are allowed to be on duty now while the other four must work from home.

“But the number of cargo flights is increasing and each one needs to be monitored, even though we have had to cut down on manpower and work according to a schedule.”

Last year, low-cost carrier AirAsia Group Bhd recorded a net loss of RM803.85 million for the first quarter ended March 31, 2020 against a net profit of RM96.09 million in the corresponding period the year before.

Quarterly revenue meanwhile declined 15.3% year-on-year to RM2.31 billion from RM2.73 billion.

On the other hand, in September last year cargo flight operator MyJet Xpress Airlines Sdn Bhd posted profits of nearly double the amount seen in the two previous years.

For 2021, it is targeting a three-fold increase in profit.

Last year, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi said e-commerce activity soared 28.9% in April, during the period of the first MCO which continued until June.

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