(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): Yesterday, after an hour of heavy downpour, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport was flooded. I was rushing to catch a flight for Penang, MH 1152 leaving KLIA at 4.45 p.m.
The heavy downpour not only slowed down considerably the trip from Petaling Jaya to KLIA, as visibility was bad, but most shocking of all, when arriving at KLIA, the highway leading up to the airport terminal was flooded with cascading water rushing down from the surrounding environs. The road to the car rental area was flooded causing a van to be stranded right at the centre of the highway, while another ten to 15 minutes of rain would have cut off all access to the depature terminals.
The Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu should make an emergency visit to KLIA to direct immediate remedial measures to be taken to ensure that there would be no floods at KLIA, cutting off all road access to the departure terminals.
In this connection, MAS should explain when it proposes to shift some of its domestic flights from KLIA to Subang, as announced by the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik early this week.
Before the shift from Subang International Airport to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, it was very difficult to book flights from Penang to Kuala Lumpur on Monday mornings, as all flights would be fully-booked quite well in advance.
However, for over a month since KLIA started operating, it was no problem to get on MAS flights from Penang to Kuala Lumpur on Monday mornings, although there has been a reduction in the number of flights. In fact, it is common for the MAS flights to have very few passengers - such as some 20 passengers in an Airbus with a capacity of some 280 - with the passenger load often in the region of between 10 to 20 per cent.
This is a very serious sitatuion as MAS has slashed by over one third its Penang-based flights, from about 45 flights a day to less than 30 flights a day, but there is still very poor passenger load because of KLIA - not just the inconvenience arising from its distance from Kuala Lumpur or Petaling Jaya, but because of the failure of the KLIA to operate smoothly and efficiently despite nearly one month of operations.
Although Liong Sik announced last Monday that MAS would shift some of its domestic flights back to Subang airport, this has not been introduced yet. I call on MAS to give top priority to the restoration of its Penang-based flights to Subang, as this is its most profitable sector in Peninsular Malaysia.
MAS should shift at least 50 per cent of its Penang-based flights back to Subang airport, and I have no doubt that there would be more passengers flying on the Kuala Lumpur-Penang-Kuala Lumpur sector than during the previous month using the KLIA.
This is for the good of Penang and Malaysian tourism, the convenience of the passengers and beneficial to the profitability of MAS as well.