KLIA arrival influx puts strain on disaster agency

PETALING JAYA: The authorities have had to deal with several issues beyond their control involving Malaysian flight passengers who were stuck at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) after arriving from overseas, says the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma).

Its operations director Datuk Hussein Omar Khan said there was an influx of arrivals at the airport on Sunday, the eve of yesterday’s deadline, where citizens from 23 countries who are long-term pass holders, were barred from entering Malaysia following an increase in Covid-19 cases in these countries.

He said some of the hotels which used to be on the list of quarantine stations had reopened for normal business, leaving the agency with fewer quarantine rooms for new overseas arrivals.

“About 200 Malaysians were affected but we have resolved the matter,” he said yesterday.

He said some of the Malaysians were successfully moved to quarantine stations at government institutions and hotels which are still on the quarantine stations list.

“Usually, we will get about 500 arrivals per day, but on Sunday, in view of the deadline, there were more than 1,000 arrivals at the airport.

“On top of that, as they arrived late at night and early in the morning, the hotels had to wait for their guests to check out first before the management could confirm whether rooms were available,” he said.

Hussein, who was at KLIA to manage the situation, also explained that Nadma had initially offered all the arrivals to check into the quarantine stations in government institutions to rest until hotel rooms were available, but many preferred to wait.

A source said that hotels in the Klang Valley were fully booked due to an unscheduled major water disruption on Thursday which lasted until Sunday.

Malaysia Airlines head of customer relations Emily Sheela Koshy said that although the airline had no jurisdiction over the matter, its staff were on hand to assist the passengers.

“Our staff were present at the holding lounge to assist the passengers.

“We fully understand the disappointment and frustration experienced by those affected by the prolonged wait at the airport.

“But we believe the authorities handled the situation to their best ability in the given circumstances,” said Koshy, stating that all health precautions were taken to minimise exposure and cross-infection.

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