Runway resumes operation

Passengers checking in at terminal two of Kota Kinabalu International Airport on Friday morning to catch the flights out after they were stranded on Thursday night.

Backup portable lighting system installed; airlines making service recovery arrangements

KOTA KINABALU: The runway at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) was opened for operation late last night after a backup portable lighting system was installed.

A spokeswoman for Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAB) said the runway opened to flights around 9.30pm.

KKIA was closed on Thursday night after the runway lights malfunctioned for the second time in six months, forcing 40 incoming and outgoing flights to be cancelled or rescheduled and leaving at least 4,000 passengers, including many returning home for Aidiladha celebrations, stranded.

Daytime flights were able to take off by first daylight on Friday as Malaysia Airlines (MAS), MASwings and AirAsia passengers on international and domestic routes were being put on alternative scheduled flights.

A statement from MAS and MASwings said a number of inbound and outbound flights at KKIA scheduled last evening had been retimed.

Based on an initial update received from the airport operator on Thursday night, it was estimated that the runway lights would be operational by 1am on Friday but as at 6pm yesterday, the situation remained unsolved, the two airlines said.

In the meantime, MAS and MASwings were making necessary service recovery arrangements, where possible, for affected passengers whilst the situation was being addressed by the authorities concerned.

All efforts were also being made to reallocate affected passengers into the earliest flights into and out of Kota Kinabalu during the day time operations.

MASWings vice president (marketing) Shauqi Ahmad said the airline had reallocated its passengers who were affected by the runway blackout on Thursday to new flights.

Assuring that the situation was under control, he disclosed that almost 300 MASwings passengers from 11 flights, comprising seven outgoing and four incoming, were affected by the blackout but had already been reallocated to new flights for their destinations.

“I think we managed the situation quite efficiently after the blackout on Thursday night because we are talking about 11 flights … not just one or two.

“All passengers were provided accommodation and transportation to compensate for their cancelled flights and as of 2.30pm on Friday, 99 per cent of all passengers had already boarded their new flights,” he said.

Apologising on behalf of MASwings to all passengers who were affected by the situation, he assured that Malaysia Airports would resolve the matter as soon as possible.

MAB had yet to confirm how many flights and passengers in total were affected.

Meanwhile, a passenger from Sandakan who was supposed to fly to Kota Kinabalu at 7.45pm on Thursday night, said she waited at Sandakan Airport until 11pm before being told that the flight was cancelled.

“I do not know who is at fault but it is very tiring to wait several hours at the airport for nothing.

“When they reallocated me a new flight, that flight too was delayed for two hours. I hope the airlines and airport management would resolve matters like these quickly because many people rely on their promised good service,” said the passenger who did not wish to be identified.

Another stranded passenger, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) first-year student Shafiq Hashim, had to celebrate Aidiladha at the airport.

Shafiq, who is taking his first holiday break to see his family in Kedah for the Aidiladha, said that his parents had driven from Alor Setar to the LCCT in Kuala Lumpur to pick him up on Thursday but had to drive back after his 7pm flight was cancelled.

“Now, I have a 5pm (Friday) AirAsia flight, I am also hoping to hop into any other flights if seats are available,” said Shafiq who stayed overnight at KKIA’s Terminal 2.

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