Fire delays 19 flights

KK airport closed for three hours after fire at Air Traffic Control Centre

The fire at the battery room which caused the disruption of service at the KKIA yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: Nineteen flights were delayed after a small fire broke out at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) Air Traffic Control Centre, disrupting its service for about three hours from 7.55am yesterday.

The fire broke out from inside the Communication and Radar System Battery room of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the incident forced personnel of the Air Traffic Control Centre to evacuate and it was shut down in adherence to safety procedures from 7.45am to 11.05am.

Kong said the airport fire and rescue team arrived at 7.50am and the fire was put out shortly after.

“According to an initial report by the Department of Civil Aviation, the smoke was from the Telekom Malaysia equipment and battery room on the first floor of the control centre, about 1.5km from the tower,” he said in a statement.

Kong said that power supply was partially restored at 10am, and by 11.05am the control centre was re-opened and operating as normal.

“The cause of the incident is under investigation,” he said, adding 19 flights had been affected by the closure of the airport for about three hours.

In a press statement, Malaysia Airline (MAS) director of operations Captain Azharuddin Osman said MAS was retiming the flights due to the temporary closure of the airport in Kota Kinabalu which was beyond the company’s control.

“Some of our flights in and out of Kota Kinabalu will be re-timed and all passengers are strongly urged to check our call centres for the latest retiming for their convenience.  We are working very closely with the airport and all relevant civil aviation authorities to minimise any inconvenience,” he stressed.

In Tawau, 14 flights out of the aiport were delayed and it affected more than 500 passengers.

Tawau Airport manager Amat Hj Maidin said the affected flights were four operated by Malaysia Airline to Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, five AirAsia flights to Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu and five MASwings flights to Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan.

Amat said the AirAsia flight to Kota Kinabalu at 8.05am was delayed to 11.22am, a MAS flight to KK at 8.25am took off at 11.35am and a flight to Sandakan delayed till 11.14am.

All the afternoon flights were rescheduled.

He said this was the first flights delay at the Tawau International Airport after it began operation in December 2001.

Yung Ah Lok, 55, and his wife Han Guan Len, 53, were among the passengers affected by the delay of their flight in Kota Kinabalu.

Their MAS flight to Sandakan was delayed from 12.45pm to 2.25pm yesterday.

According to Yung, no explanation was given by airport personnel when they checked in. Yung only found out about the cable fire incident from another passenger.

“We have been waiting for a long time but we are used to it.

“Our flight from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu was also delayed on December 23,” he said, adding that there had been a lot of delays this week.

The couple travel to and fro Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu at least once a month.

Meanwhile, Fire and Rescue Services Department director Khirudin Drahman said the disruption of service was due to a fire at the Communication and Radar System Battery room at the DCA.

Khirudin said the incident had caused several incoming and outgoing domestic and international flights to be delayed for up to an hour and a half.

Passengers were still able to check in at Terminals 1 and 2 despite the incident.

“The fire had disabled the DCA to channel information on departures and arrivals to staff of the KKIA control tower.”

Khirudin said the fire department received the distress call at 7.40am and five fire trucks arrived at the scene within six minutes.

“When our fire personnel arrived, the room was ablaze. The fire was completely contained at 8.15am,” he said, adding that the cause of the fire and the loss were still under investigation.

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