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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: Stores, banks close at quiet Batam’s Hang Nadim Airport

  • Fadli

    The Jakarta Post

Batam   /   Thu, March 26, 2020   /   06:21 pm
COVID-19: Stores, banks close at quiet Batam’s Hang Nadim Airport Members of the Indonesian Air Force stand guard as authorities unload medical equipment needed for a COVID-19 emergency hospital on Galang Island in Hang Nadim Airport in Batam, Riau Islands on March 26. (JP/Fadli)

Several stores and state-owned banks at Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam, Riau Islands province have ceased operating because of declining numbers of passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The director of the Hang Nadiem Airport Business Entity, Suwarso, said the lenders, namely Bank Mandiri, BRI and BNI, suspended their operations on Monday and they would remain closed until further notice.

"A lot the banks' customers are passengers from other regions who visit the bank right after they land. So to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the banks decided to stop operations temporarily," Suwarso said.

He said the banks initially would halt operations until March 31. However, after observing the current situation of the outbreak they decided to remain closed until further notice.

Read also: COVID-19: Batam ferry terminal mulls suspending operations amid declining income

Besides the banks, five outlets in the airport have also announced closures, while four other have requested leniency for paying their rent.

"Several shops have asked for rent reductions; we're currently discussing the matter," Suwarso said.

Before the outbreak, there were 52 flights in the airport per day carrying roughly 5,000 to 6,000 passengers to the island located close to the neighboring city-state of Singapore, but the flights were currently down to 30.

“Each flight has a low load factor causing the number of passengers to plummeted to about 2,000 people per day. It was our lowest recorded [number of] passengers in the last 10 years," he said.

Suwarso said usually airlines requested additional flight schedules to airport authorities at about this time, considering the upcoming mass exodus after Ramadan during the Idul Fitri holiday. However, because of the COVID-19 outbreak none had filed such a request.

"The airlines have not requested [additional flights]. I think flight reductions would be more probable in the future," he said.

Read also: Riau Islands governor calls for temporary closure of factories on Batam island

Agus, one of the porters in Hang Nadim airport, said the COVID-19 outbreak had directly affected his income.

"There's no passengers who want us to carry their suitcases and bags anymore. It looks like they don't want to touch us," Agus said.

He explained that his daily income has been dropping drastically. He said he usually earned up to Rp 300,000 (US$18.43) per day, but that had dropped to only Rp 30,000 on his “lucky days” in the past weeks. (nal)