Susi wants to call it quits after the latest crash
Having lost five pilots whom she considered friends in three airplane crashes that all occurred within one year, self-made woman Susi Pudjiastuti is seriously considering leaving the airline business.
The grief-stricken owner of Susi Air had to face the public again on Thursday following the news of another crash, this time a Pilatus Porter PC6 aircraft carrying 28-year-old pilot Jonathan James Willis of South Africa and Ian McDouglas, an Australian surveyor from PT Surtech.
“I can’t stand to hear about more air crashes; I want to call it quits,” Susi said while sobbing incessantly.
The Pilatus crashed into a cliff in Muara Ritan, East Kalimantan, after losing contact with Balikpapan Airport at 5:10 p.m. local time (4:10 p.m. Jakarta time) on Wednesday.
“The plane was new. It was manufactured in 2009 and undertook regular maintenance every time it reached 100 flying hours,” Susi said.
Susi Air was founded in late 2004 with just two Cessna Caravans to service the local fishing communities of Western Indonesia in order to enable them to supply lobsters and fresh fish to many markets in Asia. By then, Susi was already known as a successful and inspirational fishery industry businesswoman, earning a Young Entrepreneur of the Year award from Ernst & Young and a Primaniyarta award for Best Small and Medium Enterprise from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Prior to Wednesday’s crash, Susi Air had 46 airplanes, operating 100 flight routes throughout the archipelago, many of which were pioneer routes with unique safety challenges.
Besides being active in aviation and fisheries, Susi also actively works for social and environmental causes. She regularly uses her aircraft to deliver medicine and other urgently needed supplies to remote villages in Papua, giving directly to the people in need.
“They are the people that keep me going in this business,” she said while showing her pictures from Papua. She is also active in promoting protection of the remaining tropical forests in Indonesia from logging and plantations.
On Dec. 26, 2004, not long after she received her first airplane, the tsunami struck Aceh with cataclysmic power. Her aircraft was the first to land in Simeulue and Meulaboh just days after the tsunami struck, opening a vital air link to isolated communities.
Soon, aid agencies from around the world found Susi Air to be safe and reliable with its team of international pilots and staff; some continue to charter the planes throughout Sumatra and Aceh.
With the recurring crashes and the consequent loss of lives, Susi is taking a serious look at her business plans even though Susi Air services provide a lifeline for distributing necessary goods to remote areas in the country.
Following the crash on Wednesday, Susi Air reduced its operations from its normal 200 flights per day to just 30.
The tragedy occurred just as Susi was making final preparations for the launch of the Susi Pudjiastuti Flying School in her home town of Pangandaran, West Java, in September. (nfo)