Airlines obliged to assist stranded passengers after Mount Ruang eruption disrupts flights, says Minister

The flight information displays at Kuching International Airport showing multiple flights have been cancelled on April 18, 2024.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, April 18: It is the responsibility of airlines to ensure the welfare of passengers, particularly by assisting those stranded due to flight cancellations resulting caused by the volcanic eruption of Mount Ruang in the Indonesia Sulawesi Islands.

Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah emphasised that the Sarawak government has yet to extend assistance considering that this is an unfortunate and unforeseen natural event.

“But, I believe the flight disruptions are temporary, as airlines must prioritise safety fly before resuming operations. Flight cancellations are part of precautionary measures to protect passengers and aircraft.

“The airlines would definitely make arrangements to accommodate stranded passengers on another flights once the conditions permit operations to affected destinations,” he said when met at his Ministry’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house at Penview Convention Centre (PCC) in Jalan Bako here.

He was responding to flight cancellations to and from East Malaysia by Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia due to safety concerns following Mount Ruang’s eruption, which led to extensive volcanic ash clouds affecting the airspace and visibility in the region near to Borneo.

While acknowledging the inconvenience and potential additional costs for passengers, he expressed confidence in airlines’ ability to manage the situation and attend to affected travel plans.

“It it a matter between passengers and airlines and it is not that the government must interfere in every instance. I believe there are some kind of insurance options to take care of this or at the very least, airlines can offer ticket refunds,” he added.

Abdul Karim’s wife Datin Sri Zuraini Abdul Jabbar, Deputy Minister of Creative Industry and Performing Arts Datuk Snowdan Lawan and Deputy Minister of Youth, Sport Development Dato Gerald Rentap Jabu were among those present.

Passengers gathering at Kuching International Airport following flight cancellations due to Mount Ruang’s eruption on April 18, 2024.

Earlier today, both Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia announced flight cancellations to and from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Sarawak and Sabah for April 18 to 19. Passengers were advised to check the latest flight status and travel advisories provided by the airlines.

DayakDaily also observed many passengers gathered and queuing at the Kuching International Airport (KIA), with some awaiting announcements regarding the next available flights, if any, for today.

On the timetable screen at KIA, it was evident that multiple flights have been cancelled, including to bound for Bintulu, Sibu , Kota Kinabalu, and Kuala Lumpur. — DayakDaily