Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia estimated its unit Garuda Maintenance Facility AeroAsia, or GMF AeroAsia, could raise $200 million from selling a 20 percent stake to a strategic buyer, Garuda Indonesia CEO Pahala Mansury said. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)

Garuda Stowaway Released After Flight in Landing Gear

APRIL 15, 2015

Jakarta. Mario Steven Ambarita, 22, who crawled into the wheel well of a Jakarta-bound Garuda Indonesia flight from Sumatra last week has been released and will not face  jail.

"Mario was released on Tuesday around 11 p.m. at Sultan Syarif Kasim II airport in Pekanbaru," Marangin Parlindungan Sinaga, who represents Mario, told the state-run Antara news agency in Pekanbaru on Wednesday.

Officials had decided the offense did not warrant further police time, Maringin said.

"Mario would be in jail if the penalty was going to be more than five years," he said.

Mario is from Rokan Hilir district in Riau. On April 8, he slipped past airport security and climbed aboard the Boeing 737-800 before it departed from the province, surviving freezing temperatures as the plane flew some 34,000 feet above the earth surface.

Mario was found dazed and staggering by Soekarno-Hatta staff and was directly assessed at the airport clinic. He was reported to be running out of oxygen with blood coming from his ears and frostbitten extremities.

Mario told police he had made the perilous journey to see President Joko Widodo in Jakarta, police said.

The general manager of Sultan Syarif Kasim II airport Slamet Samiadji was fired over the incident.

Surviving the freezing temperature and very limited oxygen in the well of a commercial aircraft's landing gear is unlikely, but not impossible. A 15-year-old American boy survived for five hours in a wheel well on a flight from California to Hawaii.

The security lapse at Pekanbaru airport is the latest evidence that Indonesia has not have sufficient control to allay safety fears in its fast-growing aviation sector.

Flights run by low-cost carrier Lion Air are routinely late or canceled during busy times. After an Indonesia AirAsia flight crashed into the Java Sea in December, killing all on board, the Indonesian government revealed the airline did not have the correct paperwork to fly from Surabaya to Singapore.

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