GE15 to have a ‘positive impact’ on local air travel

PETALING JAYA: The 15th General Election (GE15) is expected to spur long-term passenger flows for the local aviation sector, as well as have a short-term positive impact on airfares, says Maybank Investment Bank Research.

The research house said in its latest report: “History has taught us that passenger traffic tends to rise during general elections as people return to their constituencies.”

This is especially true for people whose voting constituencies are across the South China Sea in Sabah and Sarawak.”

Sabah and Sarawak have already held their respective state elections in September 2020 and December 2021.

For Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), Maybank IB Research said domestic passenger traffic grew 18% during GE13 in 2013 and 3% during GE14 in 2018.

As for Capital A Bhd

Malaysia AirAsia (MAA) passenger traffic grew 11% in both GE13 and GE14.

“Hence, we expect GE15 to exhibit similar trends. But what intrigues us is that the rise in passenger traffic in the past appears to be structural.

“In other words, passenger traffic did not ease after the general elections but stabilized or even continued to grow,” Maybank IB Research pointed out.

The research house said there was also growth in airfares during the GEs, but “they did not last long.”

“We also gather that GE15’s impact on the local aviation sector may be less robust this time around,” it added.

Maybank IB Research said the voters’ turnout may not be as high as GE13, which was 80%, and GE14, which was 76%.

Another factor is that voters may be dissuaded from flying to their constituencies due to the currently high airfares, said Maybank IB Research.

The research house, which has a “positive” call on the local aviation sector, has maintained its estimates and target prices for both MAHB and Capital A.

However, it noted that Capital A is expected to benefit more from GE15, compared with MAHB.

“This is because Capital A’s fares per stage length, such as fares per km flown, are largely stable regardless of distance,” said Maybank IB Research.

That said, the passenger service charges levied by MAHB on passengers traveling through its Malaysian airports are also markedly different for domestic traffic at RM8 to RM11, while for international passengers it is RM40 to RM80.

“Therefore, the GEs tend to drive domestic passenger traffic, which is lower yielding.

“Nonetheless, we maintain our Capital A and MAHB estimates, which are premised on Capital A’s estimated financial year 2022 (FY22), with MAA passenger traffic recovering to 50% of 2019 levels and MAHB’s estimated FY22 domestic traffic recovering to 60% of 2019 levels ,” said Maybank IB Research.


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