Worsening haze leads to more flight cancellations


PETALING JAYA: More than half a dozen flights in Peninsular Malaysia had to be cancelled while several others in Sarawak had to be diverted due to the haze.

A Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd (MAHB) spokesman said three Firefly flights from Subang to Singapore’s Seletar airport were cancelled yesterday morning following haze at Seletar.

In Ipoh, all flights from the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport (LTSAS) to Singapore and Johor Baru were also cancelled.

LTSAS manager Mohd Ali Osman said with visibility dropping to 2km, all incoming and outgoing flights were called off.

Those grounded include AirAsia’s 9.45am and 1.15pm flights to Singapore and Johor Baru, respectively.

“Two of Malindo’s flights to Johor Baru at 12.20am and 3.20pm were also cancelled together with Scoot’s 4.45pm flight to Singapore, he said.

In view of the haze situation, MAHB advised passengers to check with the airline on the latest flight schedules, and also follow its social media pages for updates.

In Sibu, Bernama reported that three flights scheduled to land at the Sibu airport had to be diverted to Miri following thick fog and low clouds yesterday.

Sibu airport manager Zainuddin Abu Nasir said the affected flights were two AirAsia flights from Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur and another MasWings flight from Bintulu.

The Sibu-bound flight from Kota Kinabalu with 78 passengers on board was ordered to divert at 7.30am, while the Kuala Lumpur-Sibu flight (106 passengers) at 7.55am and Bintulu-Sibu (17 passengers) at 8am.

While the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings in most parts of Peninsular Malaysia have dropped, air quality in six areas in Sarawak continued to worsen yesterday.

In southern Sarawak, the visibility has dropped to very low levels since morning, while data from the Meteorological Department showed that Kuching hit the worst level.

As at noon, Kuching’s visibility was at only 0.5km, while the readings were 2km in Sri Aman and Sibu.

The areas are among the southern districts badly hit by transboundary haze from Kalimantan.

The situation was further compounded by local forest fires inside Sarawak.

The State Disaster Relief Management Committee, in its latest update, said there were nine hotspots inside Sarawak.

As at 5pm yesterday, Kuching in Sarawak recorded a ‘very unhealthy’ API of 266, while Sri Aman was 210, Samarahan (220), Sibu (247), Sarikei (238) and Mukah (208).

A total of 34 other places in Peninsular Malaysia had unhealthy API.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry said all schools in Perak and Negri Sembilan will resume classes today following improvements in the API readings that had gone down lower than 200 in the states.

As at 5pm, it said a total of 2,646 schools in five states involving over 1.7 million students remain closed today.

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye called for

a thorough investigation to confirm if Malaysian plantation companies had failed to put out the forest fires in neighbouring countries and thus, were partly responsible for the haze.

“If Malaysian companies are involved, it is timely for the government to introduce new legislation to prosecute those found guilty of causing fires on their property, even if it is outside Malaysia, ” he said.

Although Malaysia is a signatory of the 2002 Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, Lee said the government should have followed up on the regional treaty by crafting its own law for any real effect.

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Air Pollutant Index

Highest API Readings

    Select State and Location to view the latest API reading

    Source: Department of Environment, Malaysia