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Thursday April 22, 2010

MAS flies out of Frankfurt

SEPANG: It’s better late than never – that’s what Ronhazli Adam, 42, was thinking about when he finally flew back home.

“I was originally supposed to fly back from Cologne, Germany, last Sunday but because of the flight disruptions I was told to go to Frankfurt where the Malaysian Airlines (MAS) office is located,” the telco company worker said yesterday.

After spending two nights in Frankfurt, he said he began to feel desperate.

“We were told that we may have to travel to Rome where flights were not affected.

“But luckily I managed to board this flight back,’’ Rohanzli added.

Home sweet home: Passengers from a Malaysia Airlines flight from Frankfurt are all smiles as they arrive at KL International Airport in Sepang Wednesday. It was the first MAS flight from Europe to arrive in Malaysia after European authorities reopened their airspace after a week of flights being grounded due to ash from the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull. — KAMARUL ARIFFIN / The Star

Ronhazli was among hundreds of passengers on Flight MH001S from Frankfurt to KLIA.

MAS was the first Asean carrier to fly out of Frankfurt since the volcanic ash eruption. The flight landed at KLIA at 5.52pm.

Passengers who disembarked looked tired but relief was written all over their face.

Dr Sharifah Fauziah, who was in Geneva for a medical conference, was also delayed on her return trip. She commended MAS for managing to arrange a flight out of Frankfurt so quickly.

“MAS had rounded up Malaysian passengers stranded all across Europe and made arrangements for us accordingly.

“It even arranged a bus to Rome to pick up stranded passengers there,” she added.

Malaysian Rubber Export Pro­motion Council chief executive officer Datuk Teo Suat Cheng, who had been in Copenhagen for a trade show with her colleagues, was also beaming upon arrival.

“We are very grateful to MAS,’’ said Teo, who was supposed to have returned home on Friday.

Flight Captain Mohd Qabil Ismail, who was at the controls of MH001S, said the flight had received special clearance to take off.

Having 37 years of experience under his belt, Mohd Qabil described the delay as his “longest wait.”

“We took off at night and the weather was okay.

“It was smooth-sailing all the way,” he said.

It wasn’t the same feeling though for foreign tourists who are still stranded here.

Many were at the airport trying to find out when they could leave. Dutch tourist Helen Kools has been stranded in Kuala Lumpur since April 15 and is anxious to get home.

“Many of us are broke and cannot afford to stay here any longer,’’ she lamented, saying that MAS had only funded one night’s stay at a hotel for its passengers.

“Now, we are on our own,” said the 44-year-old.

Husband and wife team Michael and Julie Drewry who were in Kuala Lumpur on transit from Hanoi have been waiting for a flight since last Thursday.

“There has been a lack of information from the airlines,” said the Drewrys, who have already spent more than £1,000 (RM4,900) on their extended stay here.

MAS managing director/CEO Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin told reporters at the airport that stranded passengers could check their flight status by contacting the call centre at 03-7884 1234.

Related Stories:
MAS needs a week to clear backlog
Special AirAsia X flight takes off
Much less ash, say experts
More planes take to Europe’s skies after govts reopen airspace

From StarBiz:
Global airlines may lose US$1.7b

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