KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAB) should learn a valuable lesson from the failure of runway lights at Terminal One of Kota Kinabalu Internatio 28/10/2012nal Airport (KKIA) on Thursday, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.
He said the runway lighting debacle was something waiting to happen, but it should have been foreseen and avoided as it was the second runway lights failure in six months.
“Obviously, MAB was caught with its pants down. It did not have Plan B to deal with emergency situation of this kind as it did not have the foresight to reasonably assume that it could happen, even if it is only a remote possibility.
“I hope MAB has learned a valuable lesson. We can have a world class facility but we also need to have people with first-class mentality to manage it,” Masidi said when asked how the incident had affected the tourism industry in Sabah.
“KKIA is practically the heart of tourism arrivals in Sabah and when it ceases to function the whole industry will ‘fall sick’.”
What had happened at KKIA could happen in any other airports, he said.
But the real issue is the airport authority’s preparedness for such possibility of system failure.
Masidi stressed that KKIA is the busiest airport in the country after KLIA, with 160 flights on average coming and leaving via KKIA.
He said MAB was collecting huge revenues from its operation in Kota Kinabalu, especially with 94 percent of tourists arriving in to Sabah.
“Connectivity, being important to the tourism industry in Sabah, is an understatement.
“I was made to understand that as part of the overall upgrading work of KKIA, cables for the runway light were replaced as well. The contractor has dug the old cable to lay down the new cable. While waiting for the new cable to be commissioned the then existing cable was left exposed to the sun and rain which resulted in wear and tear.
“This affects the optimum distribution of power to the runway lights causing them to dim. The dimmed light was insufficient to allow landing and take-off at night. Thus, the closure for night landing and departure,” he said to The Borneo Post.
Masidi said he was told that about 50 flights involving nearly 6,000 passengers were affected by the closure of the runway. Holiday plans were in tatters and many could not arrive in time to celebrate Hari Raya Aidiladha with their families.
Tourists arriving in or departing from Kota Kinabalu too were affected, he added.
“While it is not my intention to find scapegoat, obviously it was a bitter and expensive lesson for all of us in Sabah. What happened already happened. Obviously, there is a need for better and more efficient management of the country’s airports.
“Airports are not only the transportation hub for the country but also sources of revenue for MAB (Malaysia Airports Berhad). It must justify its collection of all sorts of taxes levied on airlines and passengers by providing the service and facilities expected of it,” he said.
He further explained the ministry had requested the management of MAB to brief the State Cabinet next Wednesday on the incident, where MAB should probe into the incident and explain what really happened.
“Most important of all they should assure the public that it will not happen again,” he said.
by Mariah Doksil