Malaysia’s Airports 4.0 Initiative to digitalize airport experience by 2020

Malaysia’s Airport Holding BhD (MAHB) announced on July 3rd, 2018 that they will introduce airport 4.0 for selected local airport network. Malaysia’s Airports Holding Bhd (MAHB) has allocated a budget of 100 million ringgit (US$ 24 Million) over next 5 year for this initiative. The Airport 4.0 will bring seamlessly digital and augmented experience to passengers, and aid in passenger growth in Malaysia’s airports. Here is a look at what Malaysia’s initiative is all about, global best practices and latest technologies in the market today that Malaysia can adopt in their Airport 4.0 evolution.

Malaysia’s initiative

Malaysia’s Airport 4.0 initiative will bring fully integrated ecosystem to existing Airport 3.0 promising elevated travel experience with Internet of Things (IoT) technologies such as cyber and information security, smart sensors and artificial intelligence (AI).

One of the key drivers for Airport 4.0 initiative is to accommodate for increasing number of passengers at Malaysia’s 39 airports. The MAHB network of airports registers 7.6 per cent increase of passengers to 128.61 million passengers from 119.56 passengers in 2016. MAHB anticipates that more efficient airport will improve passenger growth and prepare the airport for industry 4.0.

The Airports 4.0 will use IoT and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) to elevate the service level at Malaysia’s selected airports to achieve the Total Airport Experience (TAE) pillar of the MAHB’s business plan Runway To Success (rts) 2020.

Best Global Practices

In the global landscape, Malaysia is not the only country to adopt Airport 4.0. The United States, Europe and leading Asian economy have all started to adopt Airport 4.0. Malaysia will certainly benefit from benchmarking against best practices from leading airports. Below are some of the leading best practices from these countries.

United States

The United States implemented Clear® security program which uses biometrics identifiers such as using passenger’s irises and fingerprints to accelerate passenger airport security screening. The CLEAR transforms biometric into an encrypted code and matches fingerprints and irises to passenger’s unique code. It is accurate to 99.999 percent and can cut security waiting time to 5 minutes.


Milan Malpensa Airport is the second largest airport in Italy. The airport handles 20 million passengers and serve more than 110 airlines. To accommodate for increase in number of passengers, the Malpensa Airport implemented Lyngsoe LogistcsTM by Lyngsoe system, Denmark, to improve baggage performance. The solution was able to improve baggage performance from 93% to 100% and led to reduced cost, faster baggage processing time and advances in baggage process transparency.


Singapore’s Changi Airport is using AI to help predict arrival landing times earlier than usual. The current solution provides a prediction when the aircraft is 30 minutes to an hour out and developments are underway to develop AI solution that can make predictions two hours ahead of time. The airport is also implementing a system which makes a sense of data streaming in from sensors at docks and on the runways, and share insights with the airlines. With this technology, aircraft taxiing time is reduced by 90 seconds for every flight from departure which cuts fuels used by airlines and airport runs more efficiently as a result.

Latest Innovation in airport solutions/ technologies

Technology is pushing innovation at airports. Another reason for looking into technology is that airports are looking for solutions that are more compatible with digital architecture and framework. Security for example has been a great concern at most airports as more security hazards emerge as a result of digitalization.

Artificial Intelligence

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) announced on March 13th, 2018 it will conduct research into application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in airport control tower operations. In a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Searidge Technologies to look into enabling new air traffic management (ATM) functions like predictive runway incursion, collision detection, aerodrome operational performance analytics and speech recognition, all through the application of AI.

Augmented and Virtual Reality (AVR)

Norway selected Avinor AS, a state-owned company that operates the majority of civil airports in Norway, to conduct a study on how virtual training could be used to prepare relevant actors in handling crises at airports. Sola Airport serving Stavanger, a city and municipality in Rogaland county, Norway, developed a virtual environment and integrated it with a training simulator. By using virtual facsimile of Sola airport the trainees were able to practice their emergency procedures on real facility. The logistical and response challenges present in real environment translated to the virtual giving the trainees a chance to perform as they would in real life. The simulator’s records and replay of all activities provided the information needed for reflecting upon and evaluating a team’s performance and learning process.

Cyber Security

Cyber Security is increasingly becoming a key component in Airports of the future. This is because increase in integrated airport solutions can create vulnerabilities within the system that could be a target of sophisticated cyber-attack. As proliferation of digital connectivity and cloud technology continues, the airports are realizing the need to build more comprehensive approach to cybersecurity measure at their airports. As adoption of connectivity solution creases, the issue of cyber security is going to be paramount to Airport 4.0.


Malaysia is well on its way to build one of the most sophisticated and futuristic airports of the future. MAHB announced that by end of 2019 more systems will be in place such as automated queue management system, an upgraded customer feedback management system and a passenger flow management system. Digitalisation of key infrastructures will be discussed in greater detail during the 2019 edition of Asia IoT Business Platform in Kuala Lumpur next 23-24 April 2019.

Sang Uk Hyun

7 November 2018

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