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An airline resumed flying with new coronavirus rules. Days later, it’s shutting down again.


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As airlines around the world attempt to restart travel in the wake of coronavirus slowdowns, not all things are going according to plan.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, Lion Air announced that all domestic and international flight operations would be suspended temporarily beginning June 5. The move was made, in part, because travelers were not following the requirements of the country’s covid-19 health protocols, according to the airline’s website.

In a statement, the airline said the “decision was based on considerations from an evaluation of previous flight operations, that many prospective passengers were unable to carry out air travel because they did not complete the required documents and conditions" necessary during the country’s pandemic alert period.

Passengers who have already purchased tickets will be able to receive a full refund or change their ticket without fees when travel resumes, but for now the airline’s goal is to prioritize the “physical and mental health conditions of all employees.”

Last month, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo issued a ban on mudik, the annual exodus of millions of travelers from the country’s cities at the end of the Ramadan fasting month, according to reporting from the Jakarta Globe. The Transportation Ministry allowed for business-related travel and family emergencies, as long as travelers could show proof they were free of the novel coronavirus, but few met the requirements.

“Many passengers had to cancel their trip because they could not show the required documents,” a spokesman for the airline told the paper after the airline reopened this week.

Indonesia — with a population of more than 267 million — was hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, and millions of residents have been under sweeping travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders for months.

According to data from the country’s Central Statistics Agency, domestic flight volume was down 82 percent in April, with 838,100 passengers on flights, compared with 4.6 million in March. International travel numbers were worse, with a 95 percent drop in passengers, leading to 26,000 fliers last month, as opposed to 558,700 in March.

Lion Air has promised to monitor the coronavirus outbreak to keep the company’s “flight operations under applicable provisions of safety and security aspects,” and to “continue to implement health protocols according to the provisions” that prevent the spread of covid-19. For now, there’s no date set for when air travel will resume.

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