TAKING OFF.. 1970s


Even before the split from Malaysia Singapore Airlines (MSA) in 1972, local freight operators had already begun to draw MAS' attention on how lucrative the air cargo business could be.

Accordingly, MAS set out to develop the Subang International Airport as a regional transshipment centre for all international flights and the Senai Airport as an air cargo centre for Southeast Asia.

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Air freight was described as "the fastest offshoot of the airline industry" and by the mid-80s, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was forecasting that Asia Pacific would become the largest air cargo market by the end of the decade.

...This was especially the case at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Subang where air cargo annual throughput had grown from just 2,400 tonnes in 1970 to 76,000 tonnes in 1980 and was exceeding 300,000 tonnes by the mid-80s.

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The issue took on further urgency when the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted in 1991 that the Malaysian air cargo industry would register the highest growth rate in the world for the first half of the decade.

...With the conversion, MAS's air cargo revenue shot up to almost RM1 billion by 1995, a huge 87% increase over the previous year and catapulted the national carrier into the ranks of the world's top 20 freight carriers.

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By the turn of the new millennium, MASkargo was well established as a major player in air freight and over the next few years it was to enhance its standing to become one of Asia's top three cargo carriers.

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