Frankly Speaking: Too much on MAHB’s plate?

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on August 26, 2019 - September 01, 2019.
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The ongoing systems breakdown affecting the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and the newer klia2 terminal, which had entered its third day at press time, has put the spotlight on Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd’s (MAHB) lack of backup plans.

This is not the first time KLIA has suffered IT problems, but the latest incident raises a major red flag as it affects both terminals and the downtime has run into days.

The IT glitch is widespread, affecting systems ranging from check-in, baggage handling and immigration to credit cards at retail outlets at the two terminals.

One can’t help but wonder why an international airport like KLIA — which has the highest volume of passengers in the country passing through its gates on a daily basis — does not have the best IT business continuity planning and disaster recovery abilities for such an eventuality? The incident also raises concerns as to whether the security measures at KLIA, which rely on technology, are adequate.

While MAHB  has attempted to keep passengers updated, it may be too late for some passengers whose flights have been rescheduled.

The flight delays have wreaked havoc on airlines and passengers, calling into question whether MAHB, which manages 39 airports in the country, may have too much on its plate. The incident will strengthen calls to break up its near-monopoly in the airport sector.

The disruption is also a major setback for KLIA, the country’s main gateway which faces stiff competition from other airports in attracting airlines to make Malaysia their regional hub. Already, travellers have been expressing their frustration on social media and the blame game has just started.

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