Malaysian Aviation Industry Outlook


Oct 18

A Bird’s-Eye View:
The Malaysian Aviation Industry Outlook


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To say that the aviation industry suffered the brunt of the COVID-19 economic crisis remains a massive understatement.

Due to travel restrictions and the ensuing plunge in flight demand throughout the first half of 2020, air traffic across the world all but came to a standstill as stringent efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak took precedence. The global airlines sector has since been left reeling in the wake of the unprecedented predicament. In fact, it is said to be the most devastating in its history – resulting in an approximate revenue loss worth $314 Billion.

Malaysia’s COVID-19 response, while efficient and rightfully commended, prohibited non-essential air travel during the movement control order (MCO; 16 March – 9 June 2020). Malaysia’s three main carriers – Malaysia Airlines Bhd, AirAsia Group Bhd and Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd – purportedly lost RM10.9 billion amid the pandemic, having cancelled close to 170K flights affecting over 4 million passengers in total. More than 1.9 million passengers opted for flight credit, whereas cash refunds up to RM399 million were issued hitherto.

Flying in the “new normal”

Fortunately, the worst appears to be behind us as the nation welcomed the recovery movement control order (RMCO, from 10 June 2020), signalling the resumption of domestic travel at full capacity. Malaysians, restless from the lengthy lockdown, were quick to book their long-awaited holidays. Airlines, on their part, have amped up in-flight safety measures to increase confidence amongst fliers.

Though the airlines industry in Malaysia still has a long way in returning to pre-COVID commercial travel volumes, its upward trajectory is promising for a projected recovery in 2022 – so as long as the virus stays under control.

The Battle of The Giants

Circling back to our three homegrown aviation companies – Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Malindo Airways – we seek to find out how RMCO and travel resumption influenced their online visibility where fliers usually make their bookings.

By running a quick Competitors Comparison in SEMrush Traffic Analytics, we see that all 3 airlines unsurprisingly dipped in total visits from March to May 2020, corresponding with the MCO period.

However, only AirAsia recovered significant domain traffic beginning from the month of June thereafter. This was likely due to the “AirAsia Unlimited Pass: Cuti-Cuti Malaysia” and “SNAP Fly & Stay” promotion campaigns – launched a week apart following the RMCO announcement.

The campaigns gained considerable traction by leveraging heavily on the general excitement Malaysians felt about being able to travel again under safer conditions. The inference is supported by the higher average visit duration on, relative to and within the same time range.


The importance of airlines website traffic cannot be overstated as, according to Every Mundo, 72% of visitors still purchase flights via desktop website as opposed to mobile apps. High-intent visitors prefer desktop booking because of the need to scrutinise itinerary details as they make transaction, which mobile web or app booking may not be able to offer.

Digging Deeper with SEMrush

SEMrush Traffic Analytics is a powerful digital insights tool that lets you get a full picture of your industry and helps you stay ahead on your most competitive platform: web. Providing valuable intelligence about your competitors’ web traffic in terms of visits, unique visits, visit duration and bounce rate, SEMrush lets you easily benchmark, evaluate an industry or market, and engineer a successful media strategy by building upon competitors’ tactics – all with just a few clicks of a button.

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Free Malaysia Today (June 2020), “Malaysia Airlines Sees Increase In Local Flights Under RMCO”

INAA Group (July 2020), “COVID-19: Economic Impact of Pandemics on Aviation”

The Edge Markets (July 2020), “Malaysia’s aviation industry heading for RM13b loss this year”

Every Mundo (July 2020), “How Did COVID-19 Affect Airline Bookings from Mobile Devices Vs Desktop Devices”

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