Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has declared all autogates at the airport to be accessible to foreign passport holders.
The lengthy and slow-moving immigration counters at KLIA might finally start moving more efficiently! Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has declared all autogates at the airport to be accessible to foreign passport holders after receiving a considerable number of complaints over the congestion at KLIA immigration lines.
According to FMT, all autogates will be opened to foreigners, especially those from low-risk Covid-19 countries like Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, and several other G7 nations. Of course, with Malaysians also being able to use the autogates, this move serves as an easy solution to reduce wait times at manned counters. In fact, foreigners who possess long-term visitor passes have already been allowed access to KLIA’s autogate entry system since November 2022.
This was floated as a “temporary fix” but it’s unclear what is meant by “especially [certain countries]” — either a country’s passport holders are permitted to use the autogates or not.
Some reports suggested that the nationals of only 10 countries would be allowed, while others said the autogates would be open to all. Still other reports noted that only passports with the required electronic/biometric chips would function in the autogates, so it seems the communication on this has been a bit uneven. Hopefully, it’s actually better on the ground at KLIA in that signage correctly informs arriving passengers of their options — otherwise, those queues won’t get any shorter.
According to the Home Minister, they are looking into further measures to permanently avoid immigration congestion and wait times at all KLIA entry points. Complaints from travellers revealed that many had to endure up to three hours of wait time before clearing immigration. Photos of epic queues have flooded social media recently.
Immigration Director-General Datuk Seri Khairul Dzaimee Daud weighed in with the observation that the long queues were the result of a “large number of arrivals.” Apparently, the fact that airlines’ schedules are not kept secret and immigration counters can actually plan for peak arrival times has been lost on department officials.
“We admit that there are some issues and several measures are being taken. For instance, reopening of the use of all the autogate facilities in KLIA.
“Previously it was just for Malaysians but will now include foreigners, especially those from low-risk countries such as Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand or the G7 (Group of Seven) countries,” said the Saifuddin.
According to The Star, travellers and tour operators had urged Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) to put up prominent signboards to alert passengers to the limited aerotrain service schedule at KLIA which contributed to “chaotic” peak periods due to reduced operations.
Travellers have been actively trying to call attention to KLIA’s problems on social media as well as several other airports around the country.
Saifuddin also touched on passport renewals, saying that a total of 20 passport issuing offices, apart from the Urban Transformation Centres (UTC), will operate seven days a week to address the rise in demand for passport renewals ahead of Hari Raya Aidilfitri and mid-term school holidays. However, all passport renewal applications must be completed online before getting the final appointment date.
If the “10 countries” declaration is the correct one — and it seems to be the most recent — then the countries whose passport holders can use the KLIA autogates are as follows: Australia, Brunei, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom.