KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9, 2009 (AFP) - A fire broke out at Malaysia’s budget airport terminal Friday, forcing the evacuation of all passengers and staff and the suspension of flights, its main tenant AirAsia said.
AirAsia’s chief executive officer Tony Fernandes said the blaze, which occurred at a new section currently under construction, had been extinguished and that there were no reports of injuries.
“The fire has been put out. I’m proud of how my staff responded quickly to evacuate the people despite the alarm not working. Hopefully we can resume operations in the next one hour,” he told AFP.
Fernandes said the fire broke out at 11.15am (0315 GMT), and confirmed an hour later that it had been extinguished.
“There are no reports of injuries, no one is hurt,” he said.
AirAsia officials said the blaze, which brought operations to a standstill, had produced a lot of smoke but failed to trigger the fire alarms. Staff nevertheless shepherded all those in the terminal outside the building.
The new section of the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) where it occurred is due to be opened in the next few months.
An eyewitness at the scene, 31-year-old businessman Cham Ze Hoe, said that at least two fire engines had arrived at the terminal.
He said he joined a large crowd of people standing outside the building when he arrived to catch his flight but was prevented from going inside.
“I was stuck in a bus outside the LCCT and I thought it was a traffic jam… I got down from the bus and walked towards the terminal,” he told AFP.
“I could see smoke coming from the LCCT building. There were hundreds of people standing outside.”
The LCCT which opened in 2006 is located 20 kilometres (13 miles) from the capital’s main facility, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. It is used by AirAsia as well as Cebu Pacific and Tiger Airways.
AirAsia on Thursday unveiled plans to shift to its own 460 million dollar airport outside Kuala Lumpur and abandon the overcrowded LCCT which it has rapidly outgrown.
The warehouse-style terminal, built at a cost of 29.2 million dollars, was designed to handle 10 million passengers a year.