Jakarta. The government has banned all commercial passenger flights in Indonesia until June 1 to try to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, top officials from the Transportation Ministry said on Thursday.
The ban applies to both scheduled domestic flights and chartered flights, the ministry's director-general of air transportation Novie Riyanto said.
The move came two days after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced an outright mudik ban during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan – which starts today – and Idul Fitri holiday to stem the spread of the pandemic.
All of Indonesia's 34 provinces are now affected by the pandemic, with a total of 7,775 coronavirus cases found across the country including 647 deaths, the latest data from the Health Ministry showed.
Several provinces have imposed large-scale social restriction (PSBB) in parts of their territory, including Jakarta, West Java, Banten and East Java.
Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, the acting Transportation Minister standing in for Budi Karya Sumadi who is still recovering from Covid-19, on Thursday issued a ministerial regulation banning all public transportation from entering or leaving pandemic red zones.
Novie said the government also could not take the risk of allowing flights between regions that have not declared an emergency.
"The [flight] ban applies nationally," Novie said.
Cargo flights, special flights to repatriate Indonesian citizens from foreign countries, flights involved in law enforcement operations and other emergency flights carrying a special permit from the Transportation Ministry will be exempted from the ban.
Minor About Turn
Less than 24 hours after announcing the ban, the ministry said it would allow airlines to honor old flight reservations, but just for today.
"Airlines are given opportunities until today to fly passengers who have already bought tickets as long as they implement the Covid-19 health protocols. There won't be any more exceptions after today," ministry spokeswoman Adita Irawati said in a statement on Friday.
"Navigation services will still run as normal. Airports will continue to open for authorized flights," Novie said.
State-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II said it had suspended commercial passenger flights at all of its airports from April 24-June 1, in deference to the ministry's ruling.
Airports managed by Angkasa Pura II include the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Banten, the Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base in Jakarta and the Kualanamu International Airport near Medan in North Sumatra.
Yado Yarismano, Angkasa Pura II's vice president of corporate communication, said in a statement on Friday the airports will remain open for cargo and other special flights, including flights transporting Covid-19 swab samples from regional areas.