MAHB has not ruled out malicious intent over KLIA outage

The disruption affected airport systems and thousands of passengers last week

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By TMR File

MALAYSIA Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) has not ruled out malicious intent as the cause of a massive technical outage that almost crippled the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) for more than 70 hours last week.

The technical problems had impacted flight operations, check-in counters and baggage handling systems, causing long queues and flight delays.

Group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin (picture) said the airport operator has not ruled out the possibility that the failure was caused by an act of malicious intent.

“Nevertheless, we will put this in the hands of the authorities to conduct a full investigation on the matter,” he said in a statement yesterday.

The unprecedented disruption, which began on Wednesday night, Aug 21, affected airport systems, including the flight information display system, check-in counters, baggage handling systems and WiFi connection.

Thousands of passengers were affected due to the technical glitch of the Total Airport Management System (TAMS).

Nearly 1,000 staff members were deployed to assist passengers, airlines and travellers. Passengers were told to arrive four hours earlier to ensure smoother check-in processes. All processes were conducted manually. Operations at the airport returned to normal on Sunday, Aug 25.

MAHB also dismissed any breach of security due to the system failure, reassuring the public that the security aspects at the airport remained intact.

“This was possible due to the close cooperation given by the Immigration Department of Malaysia and the Royal Malaysia Police,” the company said.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the ministry is expected to form an investigation committee on the KLIA TAMS system failure.

The committee has been given one month to present a comprehensive report on the root cause of the technical malfunction as well as make the necessary recommendations to avoid future reoccurrences.

The committee members are Ministry of Transport secretary general Datuk Mohd Khairul Adib, Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) chairman Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi, Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia CEO Ahmad Nizar Zolfakar and National Cyber Security Agency CEO Md Shah Nuri Md Zain.

KLIA serves between 70,000 and 120,000 passengers with more than 50,000 baggage and 500 flights movements every day.

Meanwhile, Mavcom said the economic regulator has commenced an official enquiry on the recent system disruption at KLIA. The authority received six official passenger complaints pertaining to the disruption.

Mavcom spokesperson said the outage has directly impacted the Airports Quality of Service (QoS) Framework.

“The incident affects the performance of the operationalised service quality elements within the Airports QoS Framework, as the incident has caused major inconvenience to passengers, airlines and ground-handling operations of both KLIA and KLIA2,” the spokesperson told The Malaysian Reserve in an email reply yesterday.

Initiated in September 2018, the framework is a service performance measure that is meant to ensure consistent passenger comfort at the airport and improved airport user experience for stakeholders.

It was reported that KLIA had exceeded the service quality targets in October 2018 set under the Mavcom Airports QoS Framework.

Mavcom said as of July 2019, the commission has operationalised 20 service quality elements out of the total 28 service quality elements at both KLIA and KLIA2, of which the airport services are evaluated based on four categories.

They are passenger comfort and facilities, queuing times, passenger and baggage flows, and operator and staff facilities.

“Based on the QoS framework, the airport operator could be imposed a financial penalty of up to 5% of the airports’ aeronautical revenues if it does not meet the services and standards required.

“The commission shall commence a review on the performance of the operationalised service quality elements in accordance with the set threshold standards,” Mavcom said. KLIA’s capacity had already passed the footfall limit of 25 million annual passengers, registering 28.1 million passengers last year.