Jakarta. A consumer group has urged the Ministry of Transport to issue low-cost carrier Lion Air with a warning after thousands of its passengers were left stranded on Tuesday morning (10/05) after its pilots went on strike over the delayed payment of travel expenses.
State airport operator Angkasa Pura I reported flight delays at Sam Ratulangi Airport in Manado, North Sulawesi; Sultan Hasanuddin Airport in Makassar, South Sulawesi; Lombok International Airport in West Nusa Tenggara; I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali and Adisutjipto Airport in Yogyakarta.
This was the largest number of flight delays experienced by Lion Air since February last year, when thousands of passengers were stranded for up to 24 hours at airports across the country due to a series of delays that went largely unexplained by the airline.
"Whatever the reason, [Lion Air] abandoned its customers," Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation (YLKI) chairman Tulus Abadi said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Lion's management had to give compensation for customers' losses. [The Lion Air management] must refund passengers' flight tickets and hotel accommodation in accordance with the regulation, instead of just offering food," he said.
The consumer group also slammed the government for allowing the low-cost carrier to keep opening new routes, adding new schedules and buying new planes without hiring a sufficient number of pilots and aircrew.
"The government should audit Lion Air's resources, especially its pilots and other crews," Tulus said.
Lion Air is the country's largest no-frills carrier with 113 aircraft in operation. Due to a massive purchase of jets and turboprop aircraft in recent years, the average age of Lion Air's aircraft stood at five years on April 10, 2016, the airline said in statement. It operates flights to 126 destinations, with 100 of those located within Indonesia.
Lion Air director Edward Sirait confirmed the delays but said it was caused by pilots that were on sick leave, while others had "administrative problems."
"Right now, all the problems have been sorted out and the flights are running normally. [...] Delays might still happen in the future, but we will try to reduce that," he said.