Sunday, October 28, 2012
The closure of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport on Thursday, 25th October 2012 at 6.26 pm lasted until 9.30 pm Friday 26th October 2012
Approximately 6,000 passengers were stranded at the KKIA and other destinations in Malaysia as well as international flights, involving almost 40 flights
Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha
Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Aman
This is the official statement of the incident by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, MAHB.
On 25 October 2012 at 5.40pm, during normal runway inspection, the staff doing the inspection found that the runway lights were dim and not up to the required brightness. At 6.10pm the air traffic controller confirmed that the lights were dim.
As such, due to safety reasons, immediate action was taken by MAHB to request that the runway be closed for further investigation of the runway lights. All airlines were immediately informed of this closure.
The engineers straight-away proceeded to inspect all the runway lighting cables and suspected that the dim lights could be due to electrical current leakage in the old cables which are in the process of being replaced by the contractor. This is part of the overall upgrading of the airport facilities including terminal, runway, taxiway and apron under the Redevelopment Project of KKIA undertaken by the government to provide capacity for growth in air travel.
Efforts were made to identify the points of leakage in the 12 km cables. This process of identifying and rectifying the leakages took time. At 6am on 26 October 2012, all rectification works had to stop to allow the runway to be used for daylight operations which do not require runway lighting.
In the meantime, the sub-contractor was requested to immediately complete the installation of the new cables and lightings. However they could only commence work after the closure of the runway for night operations after 6pm. No work is allowed to be done on the runway during operations due to safety reasons.
As a contingency, it was decided that portable lights from various airports including TUDM be shipped to Kota Kinabalu. These portable lights were scheduled to arrive on flights prior to sunset to enable night operations on 26 October 2012. However, the arrival was hampered by bad weather. The full compliment of portable lights only arrived at 8.00pm. As a result of this the airport had to be closed for night operations from 6pm to 10pm.
However, the sub-contractor for the installation of the new cables and runway lights managed to connect and light-up the runway lights to enable the runway to be operational by 9.30 pm. The portable lights were therefore not required to be used.
The runway was declared safe for operations at 9.30pm on 26 October 2012 and was opened for commercial night flight operations. With the installation of this new cables and runway lightings and with the provision of back-up runway circuit, the operations are now running smoothly.
The number of flights affected in terms of diversion, delay and cancellation is 51 flights for the two nights. A total of 6,000 passengers were affected.
MAHB would like to thank Department of Civil Aviation, TUDM, Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia and other airlines for their support and cooperation during this critical period. Throughout the entire incident MAHB’s focus and priority was to minimize the disruption to the airlines and passengers, and everything possible was done to bring the runway to full operations as soon as possible.
Any inconvenience caused to airlines and passengers as a result of this is deeply regretted. MAHB would like to assure that with this new installation, operations are now running smoothly.
Meanwhile Malaysia's Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman were enraged.
Datuk Seri Musa Aman said :
This incident should not have happened. The problem should not have taken so long to fix. It has inconvenienced thousands of travellers and may possibly have affected Sabah's image as a tourist destination. The State Cabinet is expecting a full report from MAB and measures to be taken to ensure that this doesn't happen again in the future.
Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha's official press statement on the incident :
RUNWAY BLACKOUT IN KOTA KINABALU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (KKIA) WILL BE INVESTIGATED
PUTRAJAYA 27 OCTOBER 2012- The reasons behind the blackout of the KKIA airport runway last Thursday will be thoroughly investigated according to Dato’ Seri Kong Cho Ha, Minister of Transport, Malaysia. Due the blackout many flights were postponed and cancelled, Kong was extremely upset with the whole situation that had caused a lot of uneasiness and anger among passengers who had planned their long weekend to celebrate Hari Raya Haji with their families and loved ones.
Kong firmly stated that no one would be spared based on the findings of the investigation with regards to this occurrence. Stern action will be taken on the careless party, whoever they maybe, individuals, local authorities or the airport operator. If there are elements of sabotage in the outcome of the investigation, then, a police report will be made and the case will then be handled by the police.
Kong reiterated that nobody will be protected in this occurrence, action will be taken on the party responsible for this situation. Her also urged the airport operator to ensure Emergency Response Plans (ERP) are in place so that occurrences like this do not repeat itself.
All the best SABAH.