Haze forces six flight diversions in Penang, emergency centre activated

Penang International Airport is shrouded in haze September 18, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang International Airport is shrouded in haze September 18, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Sept 18 — The Penang government has opened an emergency centre at the Penang International Airport (PIA) in Bayan Lepas after six flights were diverted due to the worsening haze in the state.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the centre will manage any issues regarding flights in or out of the airport affected by the haze.

“We have heard from the PIA that as at noon, six flights had to be diverted due to the haze,” he said.

Of the six, four were passenger flights while two were cargo planes.

The first passenger flight to be diverted was Lion Air JT132 from Medan to Penang that had been scheduled to land at 9.40am but was forced to turn back to Kualanamu.

Three other passenger flights are Silk Air MI346 (Singapore-Penang) that was also diverted to Kualanamu, AirAsia AK5433 (Kuching-Penang) and AirAsia AK6112 (Kuala Lumpur-Penang) that were both rerouted to Langkawi, Kedah.

The two cargo flights diverted are UPS 5X 147 (Kuala Lumpur-Penang) that was forced to turn back and Fedex FX6159 (Bangkok-Penang) that was sent to KLIA.

Chow said the visibility at the PIA was down to just 1,500 metres at the moment.

He said Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd that operates all civilian terminals in the country was working with the Air Traffic Control Civil Aviation Authority Malaysia and all airlines to provide the latest information.

Earlier today, all schools in the state were mandatorily closed after the air pollutant index (API) readings here breached a very unhealthy level of over 200.

The API reading for Balik Pulau is at 261, Minden at 229, Seberang Perai at 189 and Seberang Jaya at 182 as at 2pm.

Chow advised the public to stay indoors and reduce all outdoor activities.

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