After nearly four months of severe travel restrictions due to Covid-19, Malaysia’s international airports gradually reopened themselves to travellers as domestic flights resume in the recovery movement control order (RMCO) starting today.
Checks done by Malay Mail at low-cost carrier terminal Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) today showed that while there are some travellers waiting at the airport, they were far outnumbered by staff members.
At noon, the flight board at KLIA2 also shows that there are less than 10 flights each for arrival and departure, a far cry from when it used to handle 2.8 million passengers a month in January according to official statistics released by operator Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad (MAHB).
Speaking to Malay Mail, firefighter Firdaus Sabri expressed his excitement to return to his hometown of Tawau, after being away from family after nearly half a year.
“I am so happy to get a flight back to my hometown in Tawau. It is a relief as I have been wanting to fly back home for months now. It’s easier now that certain travel restrictions have been removed but I also understand we still need to be vigilant against another possible outbreak.
“However, at the moment I do admit that purchasing flight tickets at the moment could cost you an arm and a leg,’’ said Firdaus in jest.
Firdaus disclosed that his one-way ticket to Tawau had cost him RM700.
Pricey flight tickets have a hot topic on social media recently, a reason that was attributed to the implementation of social distancing by airlines that has forced passenger capacity to be cut to 66 per cent, according to senior minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Another international traveller who does wish to be named recalled that she had to wait for two months for an available flight back to her home country of Indonesia.
“I have been waiting for about two months for a flight back to Medan. It’s a relief I managed to get a flight out today.
“But there are still many of my friends who were working here that is still seeking for a ticket flight back home as many of us were let go from our employment due to Covid-19 and now seeking a way back home,’’ said the traveller who did not want to be named.
Checks by Malay Mail also saw some retail shops and eateries at KLIA2 beginning to operate after months of closure, although most are still closed.
Speaking to Malay Mail, a cafe employee who only wished to be known as Alia, recalled that barely any passengers passing through KLIA2 during the movement control order (MCO).
“We only started to operate in May in KLIA2 but our sister shop in KLIA is still closed, in fact, all of the retail shops in KLIA are still closed.
“For the moment I have been transferred to help with the operations here but there isn’t much of foot traffic here as well because of the travel restrictions. Everyone is hoping that this will change following the RMCO announcement,’’ she said.
Another employee who works at a souvenir shop said she and her employees had only begun work today following the announcement of the RMCO.
Prior to the interview, the souvenir shop employee and her colleagues were seen marking several lines one-metre apart from the cash register to enforce social distancing, and were heard discussing ways to ensure the safety of their customers.
“We had closed our shop during the MCO and only starting to operate today. It’s a relief to be back at work but we know there is a lot of preparation to do to ensure that our shop follows through strict guidelines set by the authorities,’’ she said.
At the mall section of KLIA2, several other cafes and dining outlets owners were also seen discussing on how best to open their businesses while adhering to strict safety guidelines.
On May 5, MAHB had issued a statement, informing the public of its strict standard operating procedure for its airports.
This includes that passengers wear masks and undergo a temperature screening.
For KLIA, only passengers with a valid flight ticket or boarding pass will be allowed to enter the terminal, while all meet-and-greeters will not be allowed into the terminal.