PETALING JAYA: Air quality in the Klang Valley fell to very unhealthy levels yesterday, forcing the closure of hundreds of schools as well as flight cancellations and delays as thick haze cut visibility at Subang airport.
The highest Air Pollutant Index (API) reading was in Shah Alam with 281 at 11am, the highest recorded since the onset of the haze late last month.
A reading of 100 to 200 indicates unhealthy air quality, 201 to 300 is very unhealthy and above 300 hazardous.
Four other areas with unhealthy API readings were Putrajaya, which peaked at 207 at noon; Batu Muda in Kuala Lumpur (256 at 11am); Petaling Jaya (232 at 11am); and Port Klang (255 at 10am).
The readings fell after noon but air quality in 19 areas remained unhealthy at 5pm including Kuching (126), Sri Aman (176), Samarahan (144), Tanjung Malim (148) and Seremban (133).
The Education Ministry ordered the closure of all schools in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Tanjung Malim (Perak) as well as Sri Aman, Kuching and Samarahan in Sarawak.
Kuching International Airport (KIA) senior manager Mohd Nadzim Hashim said a Kuching to Pontianak flight and another from Pontianak to Kuching were cancelled due to the haze.
Further flights on the route have been suspended, while nine flights to and from Kuala Lumpur as well as Sibu were delayed.
Malindo Air CEO Chandran Rama Muthy said eight of his airline’s flights at Subang’s Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah airport were delayed by up to two hours in the morning.
“We expect flight times to normalise in the evening if the weather improves,” he said.
Firefly Airlines operations were back to normal at Subang by about 4pm.
The airlines urged affected passengers to contact its call centre at 03-7845 4543 or Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd’s info desk at 03-7842 2773 for information on their flights.
An MAHB spokesman said flight operations at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and KLIA2 were unaffected.
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said the haze situation got worse yesterday in the Klang Valley, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang and Sarawak due to winds blowing the haze from an increasing number of fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia.
The statement said that for the next few days, a typhoon off Japan would also cause winds carrying the haze to blow across Malaysia from the south-west.
MetMalaysia predicts that the API readings throughout the country will finally begin to come down early next month with the arrival of the inter-monsoon that will bring more rain.