On board and taken off

Photo: Bernama

Scores face chaos as flights cancelled

SEPANG: Retiree Jirang Yahiya, his wife and his daughter had boarded a plane home to Sandakan at 10am after their Raya holidays in Melaka and had been waiting for the plane to take off, when they were given a nasty surprise.

“Suddenly, we were told to disembark and that the flight had been cancelled. They told us we could claim food coupons worth RM30 which were only valid inside the airport building,” he said when met at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 1 yesterday.

The 63-year-old said he was told that they would not be given any accommodation while they waited for the next available flight.

“We have no one to stay with here. The least the airline could do was to offer us a place to bathe and sleep. We are not asking for five-star accommodation. A simple room would do,” said Jirang, who was among hundreds of passengers who were left fuming at KLIA Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 following flight cancellations to Sabah and Sarawak.

The cancellations came in the wake of the Mount Ruang volcanic eruption in Sulawesi, Indonesia on Tuesday.

At Terminal 1, hundreds were seen forming a long line from the main door all the way to the affected counters in the departure hall.

Mathernus Wan Jock, 33, said he had been excited about going back to visit his family in Sibu, Sarawak, but that quickly turned into disappointment.

“I knew about the volcanic eruption in Indonesia and that some flights were cancelled but I was hoping mine would be fine.

“But, slowly, all destinations to Sabah and Sarawak were cancelled,” said the Information Technology officer who is working in Madagascar.

He said he had last gone home in February this year and had been looking forward to seeing his wife and child again.

Meanwhile, student Nurathirah Afrina Abdullah, 22, said she was supposed to go back to the university in Kota Samarahan with two other coursemates.

“I woke up at 3am to be at the airport for our flight which was supposed to be at 7am. We have classes to attend tomorrow and I do not know if we can make it,” she said.

Like Jirang, Nurathirah and her friends had boarded the plane but were later told to disembark.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia, volcanic ash was observed within the Kota Kinabalu flight information region (FIR) due to the volcanic eruption and had affected multiple air routes and airports.

Its chief executive officer Datuk Capt Norazman Mahmud said the volcanic ash clouds could cause severe damage to aircraft engines and aircraft systems, leading to potential engine failure, reduced visibility and damage to critical components.

Mount Ruang first erupted at 9.45pm on Tuesday.

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