KUALA LUMPUR: Budget carrier AirAsia was hit by multiple flight delays and cancellations on Monday and yesterday after 13 of its pilots were allegedly grounded by flu.
The havoc caused to flight scheduling left hundreds of passengers fuming as many were forced to endure multiple lengthy delays and cancellations. Some had no choice but to spend the night on airport floors.
The delays affected not only local flights but also to and from international destinations, including flights from Bangkokâ€™s Don Muang Airport.
Passengers on flight AK6130 bound for Kota Baru from klia2, scheduled for 7.05pm on Monday, were initially told their flight was delayed, then moved to another flight, which was cancelled.
A reader, who contacted the New Straits Times, said the passengers were given food packs at 11.30pm shortly after being told their flight was cancelled due to technical requirements by AirAsia ground staff.
Another reader confirmed that a flight from klia2 to Penang on the same day was also cancelled, with some passengers left to sleep on the airport floor as accommodation was not provided.
AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes confirmed in a text message that the problem was due to a number of the airlineâ€™s pilots being down with flu. â€œThere was a flu epidemic in AirAsia and 12 captains were sick. So, no choice,â€ he said.
Efforts to contact AirAsia chief executive officer Aireen Omar for more details proved futile, but the airlineâ€™s corporate communications department later confirmed that by yesterday evening the number of their pilots struck by flu was 13.
â€œWe do not have the official data yet, but several flights were delayed or cancelled. â€œAs of now, 13 of our pilots are down with flu,â€ a spokesman said.
Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said they had not received any official complaints, but the matter seemed like an operational issue which would usually not involve his department.
â€œThis is an issue which AirAsia will have to solve,â€ said Azharuddin. Reports by: Arnaz M. Khairul, Hani Shamira Shahrudin, Tasnim Lokman And Hashini Kavishtri Kannan