SEPANG: In an unforeseen first-ever disruption of its airport management system, the operations of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) came to a halt for hours, with scores of flights delayed and passengers left stranded and frustrated.
The interruption, which hit on Wednesday night, continued yesterday.
As at 10.30am, there were 20 flights delayed at KLIA main terminal.
The flights were scheduled to take off for destinations in Japan, Australia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Britain and Dubai as well as domestically, Penang, and Kuching and Sibu in Sarawak.
The disruption to the Total Airport Management System (TAMS) at both terminals in KLIA affected flight display information and slowed down the check-in process among others.
It was the first such widespread system glitch to hit KLIA since its inception in June 1998.
Although both terminals were affected, KLIA2 was not as badly hit, according to a spokesperson of airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB).
“The system has seen intermittent disruptions the entire day. Airport staff have personally made announcements to direct the passengers to the right counters to check in, ” said the spokesperson.
Bernama reported that the disrupted connections affected several airport systems such as WiFi connection, Flight Information Display System, check-in-counters and the baggage handling systems.
At about noon, the information counter at KLIA was deluged by passengers.
Although long and snaking passenger queues could be seen when Bernama visited the area, airport CARE or customer service ambassadors were patiently attending to the endless queries.
Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd customer service manager Rosmawati Mohamad Saufi said the situation was under control and the number of CARE ambassadors had been increased since 3am yesterday.
Explaining that this was the first time TAMS had experienced a disruption, she said check-ins were delayed because the process was handled manually.
Rosmawati added that the frequent questions from passengers were related to where they could check in, flight timing and departure gate information.
In a statement, MAHB said it had deployed about 500 staff members to assist passengers on the ground while the systems were being stabilised by their technical team.
It said all relevant stakeholders such as the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia and representatives of airlines operating at KLIA including the chairman of the Airline Operators Committee, had been briefed on the latest progress and mitigation plans.
“All relevant airport staff have been deployed to assist passengers on the ground as we expect the situation to continue throughout the day, ” it added yesterday.
The situation was under control at the main terminal of KLIA at 10.30am, with airport CARE ambassadors deployed to assist passengers.
“Since the disruption, our team has been working round the clock, not only to rectify the situation, but also to minimise the inconvenience caused to passengers, ” MAHB said.
It also advised passengers to be at the airport at least four hours before their departure time and to check with the airlines for the latest flight schedules.
Meanwhile, in Seremban, Transport Minister Anthony Loke apologised to passengers inconvenienced by the situation.
He said he was unaware of the root cause of the problem as he had yet to receive a detailed report on the incident.
Speaking to reporters after launching the Seremban-level “Fly the Jalur Gemilang” campaign at SMK Panchor, Loke said he had asked MAHB to provide a clarification to the public on what actually happened.