Airlines seeking compensation from Malaysian airport operator

Airlines will be seeking compensation from airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) after more than four days of delays and disruptions due to a network failure at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

The technical glitch at the airport has resulted in tens of millions of ringgit in losses for the aviation industry.

One airline CEO, who declined to be named, put the cost to his airline at over RM6 million (US$1.43 million), while another airline is incurring losses of over RM10 million (US$2.38 million).

The failure of the Total Airport Management System (TAMS) at KLIA was first discovered on Aug 21 (Wed) and caused flight cancellations and delays, inconveniencing passengers for four days. TAMS is an integrated airport management system used to interface and integrate most of the electronic information within the airport for services such as check-in, baggage, Wi-Fi, flight information display systems, communications systems, and several others.

There has been no official explanation of why the system had failed. However, sources point out that the core switch that connects all information systems at KLIA broke down since it had exceeded its lifespan.

An expert indicated that the TAMS at KLIA is an obsolete system that was due for an upgrade in 2012-2014 but was not approved despite repeated requests. A back-up is in place but could not cope with the overloading, thus complicating the situation, the source added.

MAHB, the Malaysian airport operator, has not ruled out the possibility that the recent network failure, which triggered the system outage at KLIA, was caused by an “act of malicious intent.”

“Nevertheless, we will put this in the hands of the authorities to do a full investigation on the matter,” the airport operator said in an August 26 statement.

On the same day, the Ministry of Transport, Malaysia announced the setting up of a committee to probe the failure of KLIA’s TAMS.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook said the committee would look into the actual cause of the disruption and propose improvement measures to prevent its repeat.

“The committee is given one month to prepare a detailed report to the cabinet,” he mentioned in a statement.

Loke said his ministry had expressed its appreciation to the passengers for their patience and thanked the airport personnel for their assistance during the incident.

“All the difficulties faced by the passengers in KLIA in the incident are very much regretted,” he added.


Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Picture credit: Bernama