Passengers At Penang Airport Squeeze Together In Long Queues To Clear Immigration
On 2 Dec, passengers at Penang International Airport faced long queues while trying to clear immigration.
The situation reportedly happened because only five out of 12 immigration counters were operational. Processes were smoother the next day with all counters in operation.
Addressing the issue, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said that such long waits could be more common unless authorities take action to cope with the rise in volume of travellers.
Passengers wait in long queues at Penang Airport
According to Sin Chew Daily, passengers clearing immigration at Penang International Airport experienced long queues on Saturday (2 Dec).
Only five of the 12 immigration counters had been open, resulting in the overcrowding of visitors at the airport.
To make the situation worse, there was allegedly nobody present to manage the queues and maintain them in an orderly manner. As a result, tourists felt trapped in the area, while queueing from the first to the second floor.
Speaking to the Malaysian paper, a reader said his friend took three hours to clear immigration.
Other readers claimed that long queues had formed at the toilets as well, which grew filthy due to the number of travellers using them.
The day after on 3 Dec, the situation improved with all immigration counters operating for passengers.
Authorities urged to tackle situation
According to The Straits Times (ST), Penang Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairman Wong Hon Wai said that only five of 12 counters were open between 11.40am and 2.30pm.
This affected passengers arriving on nine international flights on 2 Dec from places like Singapore, Jakarta and Taipei. Travellers boarding eight outbound flights were also affected.
Mr Wong added that the authorities had notified Penang’s Immigration Department of the matter.
He further mentioned that two weeks ago, people experienced long queues possibly due to numerous Immigration Department staff going on leave. This also happened over the weekends when more flights to and from Penang were scheduled.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow additionally noted that more long waits might occur unless the authorities tackled the rise in travellers visiting the state.
He said that this was especially so with Malaysia recently announcing visa-free entry to travellers from countries such as China and India.
Meanwhile, Democratic Action Party chairman and former Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said that he had contacted Malaysia’s Home Minister and hoped to see an improvement.
Passengers recommended to leave for airport early
Reacting to the news, readers told Sin Chew Daily that tourists leaving Penang should arrive at the airport two hours early to avoid missing their flight.
They added that the staff available for clearing passengers at customs was limited. As a result, passengers may struggle to reach their boarding gates in time.
One reader noted that they saw nearly a hundred travellers queueing to check in. These travellers allegedly had to run to the boarding gate afterwards to avoid missing their flights.
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