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November 26, 2008

Malaysian airports down beat over 2009 outlook
Recording a four percent increase in passenger handling this year, Malaysian airports continue to be pessimistic of next year's forecast in view of the global economic downturn, reported national news agency Bernama.

Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat, in acknowledging this, said passengers passing through the nation's airports will depend on Malaysia's gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

According to him, this year's growth came during the first eight months of 2008 but the last quarter is expected to be severely dented by the prevailing economic conditions.

"This (economic downturn) is the overall scenario that we should have in mind. We know at this juncture, this is primarily due to the economic downturn globally," Ong said.

"However, it shouldn't be construed merely on the total number of passangers that we are going to have but also on future economic conditions," he said during a press conference after launching the 45th Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviation Asia and Asia Pacific Regions.

On Sunday, Malaysia Airlines' senior general manager of sales Bernard Francis told a local daily that the airline would not scrap routes in the current economic slowdown but would make seasonal adjustments to its capacity.

Ong said that Malaysia would be working closely with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to be the pioneer state for the secure freight programme for air cargo security.

"This will be part of our efforts to enhance aviation security. We are in consultations with Australia on air security officers to be placed on aircraft," he said.

"We are also consulting with the European Commission to facilitate international passangers bringing liquid, aerosol and gels from Malaysia transiting in European countries," he added during his opening speech.

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