Penang Airport welcomes back Qatar Airways and Thai Airways

View of Penang International Airport.
Pangalau, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Penang International Airport, a member of Malaysia Airports, has welcomed the return of two global airlines in October. At the same time, the Malaysia Airports Group recorded an increase in passenger traffic year-on-year. 

Qatar Airways 

Oneworld flag carrier giant Qatar Airways has finally resumed its flight services on the Doha-Phuket-Penang route for the first time since the pandemic.

The route will be served with daily flights, and the flight is performed as QR841 from Phuket Airport. During the peak or winter season, Qatar utilizes the Boeing 777-300ER

Thai Airways

Thai Airways International has resumed its flights from Bangkok to Penang. In fact, the Thai flag carrier deployed its subsidiary Thai Smile for the route before THAI’s management decided to merge THAI and Thai Smile together. 


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Thai Airways International flies their only narrowbody A320 to Penang under flight number TG426. 

These flights added by Qatar Airways and Thai Airways International are a testament to the resurgence of the increase in air travel demand globally. Thai Airways and Qatar are able to capitalize on the increase. 

A Thai Smile Airbus A320 parked on the tarmac.
Alec Wilson from Khon Kaen, Thailand, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Malaysia Airport Group – October 2023

Last month, October 2023, Malaysia Airports Group, reported its local operations of 6.8 million passenger movements. This represents 67% of the Group total of 10.2 million. 

The balance 33% was contributed by its prized asset in Türkiye – Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW), where they have handled 3.3 million passenger movements. 

Year-on-year, the Group has registered a total of 98.9 million passenger movements or 84.7% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

The Group operation in its native Malaysia inked an incredibly strong performance last month for both international and domestic markets at 3.4 million passenger figures respectively. 

International Seats

Cross-border traffic witnessed a 3.6% growth over September 2023 due to the 3.3% increase in airline seat capacity tabled in October 2023. 

Growth of such seas has been driven by new services from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Zhangjiajie, China by Batik Air Malaysia; Kertajati, Indonesia by Malaysia Airlines; and Padang, Indonesia by Super Air Jet respectively. 

Domestic Seats

The level of passenger movements for domestic travel in Malaysia for October 2023 peaked at 80.3% of 2019 levels at 3.4 million passengers. 

The average load factor for the domestic sector was 81.5%, which is the second highest to date, after August 2023 which hit 82.2%. 

Reflections on 2023

As 2023 is coming to an end, Malaysia Airport Group’s operational performance in passenger numbers especially in October 2023 signifies a promising trend in the recovery of air travel in the industry. 

The re-introduction of flights from Qatar Airways and Thai Airways International is yet another milestone for the airport, stirring up air travel demand and passenger movements.

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By Indy Udol 4 Min Read
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