Are the jinx to the RM400 million KLIA's
world fastest and most sophisticated baggage handling system in the past
four-and-a-half years largely caused by a RM126,000 problem in not having
another 1,800 bag-carrying tubs?
by Lim Kit Siang
Ever since the opening of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)
touted as the "airport of the next century" in July 1998, one of its biggest
jinx is its world's fastest, most sophisticated and most expensive baggage
handling system which boasts of the capacity "to detect any passengers who
fail to board their flights and pin-point a passenger's luggage and retrieve
it within seconds".
Alas, in practice, the world's fastest and most sophisticated baggage
handling system never lived up to its billing, creating mountains of
baggages and messy flight delays from the very first day of operation of
KLIA until the present - with three major breakdowns in the past two months,
delaying six international flights bound for Sydney, Jakarta, Beijing,
Shanghai, Canton and Guangzhou on the second day of the Chinese New Year.
We are now told by the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik
that he had magically largely solved the problem of the jinx of the RM400
million world's fastest and most sophisticated baggage handling system in
the RM12 billion KLIA - the shortage of another 1,800 bag-carrying tubs,
each costing RM70 each, or a RM126,000 problem!
Ling said yesterday that human error and systems failure are the cause of
the frequent breakdown in the baggage handling system at the KLIA.
He said the baggage system problem was staff-related and that the system
operating the baggage belt played a contributing factor.
This is the New Straits Times report of his diagnosis and instant solution
to the jinx of the world's fastest and most sophisticated baggage handling
"SEPANG, Feb 8: It is tubs to
the rescue as Kuala Lumpur International Airport plans to obtain 1,800 new
bag-carrying containers in another measure to improve its baggage handling
system. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik said this would
double the current amount at KLIA to 3,600 tubs, which is its capacity, and
help to smooth the flow of baggage significantly.
"'We are dealing with bags per hour. We have around 50,000 passengers per
day and around 3,400 bags are handled per hour during peak time,' he said
after a third visit to check the baggage handling system at KLIA here today.
"Ling, who was accompanied by Transport Ministry secretary-general Datuk
Zaharah Shaari, Malaysia Airports chairman Tan Sri Basir Ismail and other
officers, said they particularly wanted to check on the system this morning
as there were 40 flights travelling to and from the airport.
"He said the relevant bodies had wanted to see what really happened at the
peak, when a maximum number of bags went through.
"'There are certain points when the system stops. A lot of these stops are
staff-related, where the bags are wrongly placed and cannot be read by
scanners,' he said.
"Once bags are not scanned, they are transported to a 'garbage area' and
when this area becomes full the whole system stops. Staff will be trained to
properly handle bags, he said, but the extra tubs would be a big part to the
"'MAB will go and buy many more tubs so it will be one bag for one tub. The
instruction will then be very easy, there should not be two bags in a tub
because one of bags will not be read,' he said, adding that this would also
help solve the problem of bags with long straps that could get stuck in
"The measure will cost Malaysia Airports RM126,000, with each tub costing
"System-related problems, he said, would also be sorted out with the
co-operation between KLIAB and MAB's information technology department to
re-write the system and update the software used to run it"
"This will be very quickly reviewed. These are short and medium term
solutions," he said, adding that there would be staff on stand-by at all
times to ensure there were no problems for delegates of the Non-Aligned
It all sounded so simple, easy and
cheap - one bag for one tub and no two bags in a tub, that the jinx to the
RM400 million KLIA's world fastest and most sophisticated baggage handling
system in the past four-and-a-half years were largely caused by a RM126,000
problem in not having another 1,800 bag-carrying tubs!
But if so, why was this not problem identified and problem resolved earlier
instead of allowing it to besmirch the international reputation of the RM12
billion KLIA in the past four-and-a-half years? One would have thought that
the top management of KLIAB and MAB should be sacked for such gross
Furthermore, if the problem is largely the lack of another 1,800
bag-carrying tubs, why did Ling announce on Wednesday that there would be a
"major tender exercise going on very soon for the installation of a new
system to shorten the luggage delivery time from the current 25 minutes it
takes between the aircraft to the carousel to around eight or 10 minutes" -
which does not seem to make sense when the baggage-handling system had been
designed with the capacity "to pin-point a passenger's luggage and retrieve
it within seconds"!
With the new discovery by Ling that the real jinx to the RM400 million KLIA
baggage-handling system is a RM126,000 problem because of the lack of
another 1,800 bag-carrying tubs, is the Transport Ministry now canceling the
major tender exercise for another mega-expenditure in the KLIA?
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National