The Jakarta Post
The Transportation Ministry has suspended a flight operated by Batik Air on the Jakarta-Denpasar, Bali, route as the airline was found to have violated physical-distancing policy in its operation.
The airline violated the ministry’s regulation on COVID-19 prevention, which limits the number of passengers on board to 50 percent of maximum capacity, equivalent to around 90 passengers on a Boeing 737-900ER, as a measure to apply physical distancing to contain the virus.
“Based on the ministry’s investigation, there was a violation regarding the physical-distancing policy by an airline and airport operator,” the ministry’s spokeswoman, Adita Irawati, said on Tuesday in a press release.
The violation was later confirmed by both the ministry and Batik Air as having occurred on the airline's Jakarta-Denpasar flight ID-6506 at 8 a.m. on May 15, in which 100 passengers were carried in economy class and six passengers in business class, higher than the allowed capacity.
“We’ve imposed a sanction on the airline by suspending the flight that was found to have violated the regulation,” Adita said.
Passengers would be transferred to other flights, the ministry said.
Batik Air corporate communications strategic Danang Mandala Prihantoro said that the overcrowded flight was due to passengers having rescheduled their flights, among other reasons.
“The number of passengers being flown was above 50 percent [capacity] on certain flights because of rescheduled flights for passengers as a result of pressing matters, and group or family bookings wanting to be on the same flight and in the same row,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura (AP) II has also received a letter of warning from the ministry relating to violations of the physical-distancing policy in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
Crowds of people were seen at the airport’s Terminal 2 on May 14 as passengers lined for document checks before boarding 13 flights that were scheduled in a short time-span between 6 a.m. and 8.a.m.
Pictures of the crowding circulated on social media, triggering a public outcry over the incident.
Responding to the warning, the airport operator stated that it had applied improvements to the departure procedures, including dividing passenger checkpoints into four sections, which had taken effect since May 15.
“In compliance with the Transportation Ministry recommendations, PT Angkasa Pura II maintains physical distancing in effect [in airports], and we are committed to complying with those recommendations,” Angkasa Pura II VP of corporate communications Yado Yarismano said in a statement on Tuesday.