Wedding joy hits an air pocket

In the same boat: Hazwan Mohd Hanafi (standing, second from right) together with 20 family members were heading to Tawau to attend a wedding. They, too, became stranded at KLIA2 when their 8.20am flight was cancelled yesterday. — Bernama

KOTA KINABALU: Rusnih Majid and an entourage of 16 members of her family were all packed and ready to leave to attend her nephew’s wedding in Kuching tomorrow.

But the buoyant atmosphere was dampened at the airport here when they found out that all flights had been cancelled because of the Mount Ruang volcanic eruption in Sulawesi.

They had been scheduled to leave for Kuching on the 12.30pm Firefly flight, said Rusnih, 65, who was with her sister, the groom’s mother.

The family had left their home in Kampung Luagan Sanginan, Beaufort, at 6am only to find out about the flight cancellation when they arrived at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) at 9am.

“It’s disappointing because we came from far away. The family from Labuan is also here with us; we are going to attend my sister’s son’s wedding,” she said when met by Bernama here.

There was no indication of when flights will resume but Rusnih is hoping that they will be able to get a flight to be in Kuching in time for the wedding ceremony tomorrow.

The wedding entourage was among hundreds of passengers, including those travelling for their umrah, who were left helpless as flights in and out of Sabah were cancelled.

Nuraini Robert, 54, and her daughter, Najwa Musain Musli, 28, from Kampung Paal, Tenom, said their flight through the umrah agency, scheduled for 12.05pm to Singapore, was postponed.

She said she only found out when she arrived at KKIA, after being told by the umrah agency that they were expected to arrive in Jeddah tomorrow.

“I arrived in Kota Kinabalu yesterday, but when a situation like this happens, we just have to accept it and pray that the situation will get better,” she said.

Another passenger was worried about how their group could connect with an international flight from Kuala Lumpur to Jeddah scheduled for today.

“We are all praying,” said the passenger, who is part of a group of 24 going on umrah.

Both KKIA and Tawau Airport remained packed with angry and disappointed passengers trying to make alternative arrangements.

Many were left complaining that the airline’s websites had no updates on the cancellations.

However, it is learnt that by 2.30pm, most airlines had updated their websites.

“We can’t do much, this is an act of nature. We have been explaining to passengers that we cannot fly until the authorities give us the green light,” an airline official said.

Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia have cancelled all their flights from KKIA and Tawau and only two flights – a Batik Air from Kuala Lumpur and AirAsia flight from Johor Baru – landed in KKIA yesterday. More than 20 flights in and out of the airports had been affected.

Even a Malaysia Airlines flight ferrying the body of veteran Sabah politician Tan Sri Joseph Kurup was affected by the cancellations. According to the family, Kurup’s body had been scheduled to leave KLIA on MH7404 at 7.15am but the flight was cancelled.

Kurup, 80, passed away Wednesday night at Institut Jantung Negara.

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