SEPANG: The eight-hour delay involving a batik Air flight last Friday (Dec 23) to Kuching was caused by a diversion to Langkawi and for a new crew to board as the pilots had exceeded the permitted flight hour limit, says Anthony Loke.
The Transport Minister said the matter could have been handled better with proper communications.
He said he had received the full report from Batik Air, formerly known as Malindo Air, after he told the airline to apologise to passengers for the delay.
"The aircraft was forced to divert to Langkawi, and once they reached there, the pilots exceeded their flying hours.
"So, a new crew had to be flown to Langkawi to take over, (leading to) a few hours of delay," he said at a fixed air fare promotion at KLIA2 on Wednesday (Dec 28).
ALSO READ: Batik Air says sorry to passengers over flight delay
Loke said he was not making any excuse for the airline but wished to explain the conditions under which carriers operate.
"However, I hope in terms of handling communications (over) delayed flights, it could be done better in future," he added.
On Tuesday (Dec 27), he said the airline should issue an apology and be held accountable for the incident.
On Monday (Dec 26), Twitter user Mohd Firdaus Jailan (@firdausjailan) said he was stranded in KLIA for more than seven hours because of the delay.
Firdaus’ video tweet, which garnered more than one million views, showed stranded passengers sleeping on benches near a departure gate, with the flight information display system apparently not updated.
Batik Air then said on Tuesday it would contact all the affected passengers to extend special complimentary vouchers.
“We deeply regret that the delays have caused much inconvenience to our passengers and their families,” it said in a statement.
It added that food vouchers were issued to the affected passengers but accommodation could not be arranged as hotels were fully booked and eateries in the terminal were not open at the time.