Saturday, May 1, 2010

10,000 passengers still left stranded

20 April 2010

SEPANG:About 10,000 Europe-bound passengers may still be stranded as AirAsia X has cancelled its flights to London while Malaysia Airlines had no available flights to the continent yesterday.

The AirAsia X flight to Stansted, scheduled to depart from the low-cost carrier terminal here at 2pm yesterday, was cancelled due to fears of a new eruption of the volcano under the Eyjafjallajökull glacier in Iceland.

In a statement issued yesterday, MAS said it had to cancel 46 flights between April 15 and yesterday, leaving 14,000 passengers stranded.

However, the airline had flown three times to Rome since then.

MAS flights from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to London, Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt, and vice versa, were affected when flights were cancelled after ash and other particles spread across Europe from the volcano which began erupting last week.

MAS, however, is planning to resume scheduled flights to London, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt today. Its operations director, Captain Azharuddin Osman, said the airline was also looking at mounting additional flights to the four destinations tomorrow Scheduled flights to Rome are not affected and will operate as normal. MAS flies thrice weekly to Rome, on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

“However, passengers are advised to be mindful that the flights will be subject to airspace and airports being open as the situation remains fluid,” said Azharuddin. AirAsia X operations head Moses Devanayagam said yesterday’s flight to Stansted had been planned when the airline received approval on Monday night from British authorities to fly into UK airspace.

“The flight was planned, in addition to our regular scheduled flights, when we were informed that Stansted Airport may be fully operational by 1900 (UK time) Tuesday.

“However, the situation changed overnight due to variable changes in the ash cloud, and we are not able to determine when Stansted Airport will be open to commercial aviation traffic,” he said in a statement.

Devanayagam said with the latest developments and after reviewing all possible options, the airline determined that it would not be able to operate either the scheduled flights or the additional flight.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and will re-commence our flights to London once Stansted Airport reopens and UK airspace conditions improve,” he said.

He said since the airspace restrictions were enforced by the UK National Air Traffic Services, AirAsia X had been unable to operate 12 international flights between Stansted and Kuala Lumpur. Meanwhile, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said visas for foreigners stranded here would be extended by a month.

by Alang Bendahara and Maizatul Ranai


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