Mt Ruang eruption: Flights resuming as weather conditions improve


KOTA KINABALU: Several flights have been reinstated and airlines are arranging to fly out nearly 20,000 stranded passengers at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

AirAsia resumed several flights travelling from various locations in the country, including inbound flights from as far as Hong Kong, Taipei, Shenzhen and Singapore.

A Malaysia Airlines flight to Kuala Lumpur was believed to be the first to take off from KKIA at around 6.30pm on Thursday (April 18), since suspension of incoming and outgoing flights was issued at 7am, following the volcanic eruptions at Mount Ruang in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Earlier, all flights were temporarily suspended as a precautionary measure after the eruptions caused a plume of ash to drift into nearby airspace.

A statement from the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) said air operators will resume operations, depending on the weather report.

Its chief executive officer Datuk Captain Norazman Mahmud noted that the condition was improving and that operations had started as early as 7pm.

“The forecast shows the volcanic ash clouds clearing starting at 7pm from around the Sarawak region and completely clearing the entire island of Borneo from 10pm tonight," he said.

Norazman added that Air Traffic Control in Borneo has been instructed to extend its operation hours to facilitate recovery.

Malaysia Airlines flights also announced its flights have been reinstated amid prevailing weather conditions.

The local airline reminded passengers flying to or from destinations in Sabah and Sarawak from Friday (April 19) onwards to constantly stay informed with the latest updates.

“As flight operations are subject to weather conditions, passengers are urged to update their contact details via My Booking on Malaysia Airlines’ website to receive timely updates from time to time via email and SMS,” it said in a statement on Thursday.

However, the airline said certain flights would remain cancelled until further notice.

“Updates will be provided here periodically and communicated directly to affected customers,” it said.

The airline said it would also offer affected customers a one-time change to their travel itinerary free of charge, or opt for a full refund irrespective of their fare family.

“To minimise the inconvenience caused by the unforeseen cancellations, affected customers who wish to change their flights or cancel their travel may do so via 'My Booking' on our website.

“Alternatively, customers may also reach out to our Live Chat support available on the website or call our Global Contact Centre.

“The safety of our passengers and crew remains of utmost importance to Malaysia Airlines,” it added.

A full list of the newly reinstated and still-cancelled MAB flights can be found on the airline’s website at https://www.malaysiaairlines.com/my/en/mh-media-centre/important-for-you/cancellation-flights-18_april-2024-mount-ruang-volcanic-eruption.html.

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