MAHB: Airports will only be closed if visibility drops below 400 metres

As of 2pm today, visibility at airports was at 2,000 metres. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
As of 2pm today, visibility at airports was at 2,000 metres. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — Airports will only enforce the low visibility operating procedures when the horizontal visibility drops below 400 metres, said Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB).

As at 2pm today, the visibility is at 2,000 metres despite the current haze, said a spokesman of the airport operator.

“This visibility is recorded by a piece of meteorology equipment placed at each end of the runway, which measures horizontal visibility, which the aviation world terms as runway visual range (RVR).

“The airport authority may decide to suspend the airside operations on the advice of Air Traffic Control (if horizontal visibility drops below 400 metres),” a spokesman of MAHB Holdings told Bernama.

The Langkawi International Airport was closed temporarily for over three hours in October 2015 due to haze that resulted in low visibility of only 500 metres, causing hundreds of passengers to be stranded at the terminal building.

The Civil Aviation Authority (previously known as the Department of Civil Aviation) had said that airports in Malaysia are equipped with more modern and sophisticated systems such as the Instrument Landing System (ILS) and the Surface Movement Radar System (SMR) that facilitate aircraft landing in a haze.

Last year, Malaysian passenger movements grew 2.5 per cent to 99 million passengers, with domestic and international movements increasing by 0.4 per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, passenger figures at the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (Istanbul SGIA) rose by 8.8 per cent to 34.1 million, boosting the total number of passengers handled by the MAHB network of airports to 133.1 million in 2018 — the highest-ever recorded.

As for the first six months of this year, MAHB’s network of airports, including the Istanbul SGIA, handled 67.8 million passengers — a 4.3 per cent year-on-year growth. — Bernama