A Lion Air ticket office at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. (B1 Photo/Danung Arifin)

Transportation Ministry Hands Lion Air Ultimatum to Improve Service


APRIL 04, 2017

Jakarta. The Transportation Ministry has handed an ultimatum to Lion Mentari Airlines, the parent company of budget airline Lion Air, to improve services by the end of May or face crippling sanctions.

The ministry demands Lion Air increase the number of personnel manning each aircraft and the number of standby airplanes available at any given time, while also imposing stricter limits on how long individual flight crews can work on each shift.

Lion Air has also been asked to improve the quality of its customer service.

The warning came after another string of delays plagued the airline in recent days, revealing the company's persistent inability to manage its timetables.

"Lion Air's management has made a commitment to meet our requirements within two months," Agus Santoso, the director general of air transportation at the ministry, said on Monday (03/04).

A total of 11 Lion Air flights were delayed at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport last Sunday, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded overnight.

On the same day, a Lion Air Boeing 737 set to take off from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya leaked fuel while boarding passengers.

The airline's management team was summoned to the Transportation Ministry in August last year following similar incidents. The Lion Air pilots' union has also registered a series of complaints over dismal treatment employees receive from the airline.

Daniel Putut, director of operations at Lion Air, said on Monday that the airline is embarrassed by Sunday's delays and apologized to passengers for any inconvenience they encountered.

According to Putut, Lion Air is committed to implementing the Transportation Ministry's demands, noting that the company currently employs an average of three and a half crew members for each airplane that it operates, in line with the government's minimum requirement.

"But, it appears this ratio is not sufficient considering our flight frequency, so we are thinking of increasing the number to five crew members for each plane," Daniel said.

Lion Air will also have more airplanes on standby in most airports it operates out of and set up customer response units to reduce delays, Daniel added.

Regarding the fuel leakage incident in Surabaya, Daniel said the airline will consult with Airbus and Boeing – two of the world's largest aircraft manufacturers – to prevent future incidents.  

A Lion Air investigation into the Surabaya incident concluded that a faulty overfill sensor caused the Boeing jet to leak fuel as the aircraft was being prepared for flight. The airline has ordered its engineers to check all aircraft for similar problems.