The Jakarta Post
Low-cost carrier AirAsia Indonesia will soon resume flights from Surabaya, East Java, to the Malaysian cities of Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru after they were temporarily stopped on April 1 amid the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the two countries, an AirAsia official has said.
AirAsia Indonesia decided to reopen the flights from Surabaya to the Malaysian cities on May 18, following a decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the neighboring country, the airline’s president director Veranita Yosephine said on Monday.
“Kuala Lumpur has shown a positive trend regarding the spread of COVID-19, and therefore we decided to reopen our flights to Malaysia. However, we’ll continue to review our decision and maintain our health standards,” she said during a virtual press conference.
AirAsia Indonesia has suspended all scheduled flights since April 1 due to a lack of passengers as the government appealed to the public to stay at home and avoid travel. The government officially prohibited flights on April 24 to and from the country’s major cities as part of the emergency measures implemented to halt the spread of COVID-19.
To generate income, Indonesian airlines including AirAsia Indonesia have shifted to cargo and chartered flight services that are still permitted by the Transportation Ministry.
“Currently, we are only utilizing 10 of our 28 airplanes. We’re partnering with AirAsia Group’s cargo business company Teleport to run the cargo operation,” she said.
Although the airline has been able to shift its operation from passenger to cargo services, AirAsia, as with other airlines, is still struggling to maintain its cashflow.
Indonesian airlines are struggling to survive amid the COVID-19 pandemic, having booked combined revenue losses of Rp 207 billion (US$13.4 million) as of April 15, according to Finance Ministry data.
In order to keep the company afloat, Veranita said the company had taken a number of cost-cutting measures such as employee salary cuts and airplane lease renegotiations and was also seeking new sources of capital.
“We’re currently still looking at which sources of capital we could explore. To do so, we also need permission from the shareholders,” she said.
Veranita said AirAsia would fully comply with the Transportation Ministry’s regulation and the government-regulated health protocols for international flights, such as mandatory use of masks and a health document requirement.
“We will implement the health protocols set by the government and will require health documents [for passengers],” she said.
She added that the airline would continue monitoring developments in the COVID-19 pandemic in both countries, and could shut down the flight routes if there was a spike in new cases.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia has risen steadily with the latest Health Ministry data recording 395 new confirmed cases on Monday, an increase of 349 new cases from the previous day.
In neighboring Malaysia, the trend in new COVID-19 cases has shown signs of plateauing, with the country’s Health Ministry reporting 55 new confirmed cases and no deaths on Monday, down from 122 new cases and two deaths on Sunday, according to local media The Star.