IPOH - Poor visibility due to lingering haze prompted Ipoh to cancel flights to Singapore and Johor Baru on Friday (Sept 13), leaving 549 passengers stranded at the airport, said an airport official.
Flight visibility went down to 2,500m as of 2pm, forcing the disruption in operations, the Bernama news agency reported.
Another 555 passengers who were supposed to arrive at the Sultan Azlan Shah (SAS) Airport in Ipoh, Perak, on four flights were diverted to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (SAAS) in Subang, said SAS manager Mohd Ali Osman.
"Two Scoot Airlines from Singapore, and one each from Malindo Air and Air Asia, were scheduled to arrive here at 9am, but are now stranded in KLIA and SAAS," Mr Mohd Ali was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times (NST).
"These flights need to be diverted to Kuala Lumpur and Subang before arriving here, following poor weather conditions."
Scoot told The Straits Times that one of its flights from Singapore to Ipoh was diverted on Friday, while two flights were re-timed.
Apologising for any inconvenience caused, Scoot said customers have been notified of the re-timings and, where necessary, were provided with accommodations.
Scoot flight TR484, which was initially scheduled to depart Changi Airport on Friday at 7.45am and arrive in Ipoh at 9am, was diverted to Kuala Lumpur due to "haze and poor visibility" in Ipoh, a Scoot spokesman said.
The flight landed in Kuala Lumpur at 10.27am, and customers were provided with the option to either disembark there or return to Singapore.
The plane will depart from Singapore at 9am on Saturday and operate as TR484D. It is expected to arrive in Ipoh at 10.15am.
Two other flights due to depart on Friday were rescheduled to Saturday.
TR480, which had been scheduled to depart Singapore at 11.15am for Ipoh, was re-timed to depart Singapore at 10.30am on Saturday as TR480D.
TR486, initially set to to depart Singapore at 3.35pm for Ipoh, will now only depart at 1.30pm on Saturday.
Madam B.H. Lee - who was on TR484, the flight diverted to Kuala Lumpur - said many passengers made their own plans to get to Ipoh by car after arriving in Kuala Lumpur.
The 40-year-old consultant in market research, who chose to return to Singapore, added that visibility at the Kuala Lumpur airport was also poor.
"When we were lining up to take off, planes in front of us would vanish from sight on the runway before they even took off,” said Madam Lee.
When contacted by ST, a Singapore Airlines spokesman said its flights between Singapore and Malaysia remain unaffected.
A passenger who gave her name only as Coco told NST she was scheduled to fly to Singapore on Friday morning, but her flight was delayed.
"I want to spend the long holiday this weekend with my children in Singapore, but I never expected this to happen," she said.
"My flight has been rescheduled tomorrow, but I have not received any further details. It is pretty chaotic right now."
As of 10pm on Friday, three areas in Perak in north-western Peninsular Malaysia recorded an air pollutant index (API) reading of more than 100, the unhealthy level. These were Tasek Ipoh (136), Pegoh Ipoh (117) and Seri Manjung (127), based on figures from the Air Pollutant Index Management System (Apims) website.
Malaysia has pinned the blame on forest fires in Indonesia's Kalimantan and Sumatra for the obnoxious haze that has caused air quality to drop to unhealthy levels in parts of Malaysia. Indonesia has dismissed those claims.
Additional reporting by Clement Yong