INDONESIA will stop issuing new route licences to Lion Air, a sanction imposed on the airline for its numerous flight delays.
“We have warned (the airline) and will not issue (permits for) new routes in the next six months, (as of May 11),” said Suprasetyo, director general of air transportation at Indonesia’s Ministry of Transportation.
Thousands of passengers were stranded at various airports last Tuesday as some 300 Lion Air pilots went on strike in Jakarta, demanding payment for delayed transportation allowances.
While the cause of the strike was an internal issue between the pilots and the company’s management, the licensing suspension was a result of the airline’s poor management of the situation, added Suprasetyo.
Edward Sirait, general affairs director for Lion Air, said in a statement that the company had since managed to overcome administrative problems faced by a number of crew members and operations are now back to normal.
He added however, that more flight delays should be expected in the coming days and that the management is still working on reducing those delays.
Still, ticket sales continue to be healthy despite the airline’s repeated failure to operate according to schedule.
Edwin Ismadi Himna, chairman, Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies Jogjakarta Chapter, said: “Travellers keep getting angry with the airline when things go wrong, but they will still fly (with them). This is because the airline has extensive routes and frequencies around the country, some (exclusively by them). The airline is also known for its cheap fares.
“This, however, does not give the airline the right to take customers for granted and it is up to the government to impose rules and regulations to assure that service standards are being met.”
Calling for sterner sanctions, Pauline Suharno, deputy secretary general of the Association of the Air Ticketing Companies in Indonesia, said: “Instead of halting new route permits, the government should force the airline to improve its operational performance by cutting existing routes and frequencies.
“The airline has too many routes and frequencies, too much for the company to manage.”