Cargo being loaded into a Lion Air plane at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, on Thursday. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Iqbal)

Indonesian Airlines Resume Flights Even Though Mudik Ban Stays


MAY 07, 2020

Jakarta. Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia resumed commercial operations on Thursday after the government decided to exempt business, emergency and repatriation flights from a travel ban to rein in the spread of coronavirus.

Citilink Indonesia, Garuda's budget airline subsidiary, restarted commercial flights at midnight on Thursday.

Rival Lion Air Group, which includes Indonesia's largest budget airline Lion Air, Wings Air and the full-service Batik Air, is mulling over a plan to resume flights on Sunday. 

Nayyar Napis, Garuda's station manager at Medan's Kualanamu International Airport, said a Garuda flight had departed from the airport in North Sumatra to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, carrying 105 people.  

"All passengers have to follow strict Covid-19 health protocols. No one who tested positive for Covid-19 will be allowed to board the flight. They need to bring all their travel documents and are not allowed to travel for mudik," Nayyar said. 

The government decided on Wednesday that business and emergency trips and flights to repatriate Indonesian citizens from overseas would be exempted from the Covid-19 travel ban.

Previously, only logistic flights and flights carrying state officials on Covid-19 mitigation assignments were allowed to go in and out of pandemic red zones like Greater Jakarta and Surabaya.

The ban was put in place on April 24 to prevent people from leaving urban areas before the Idul Fitri holiday and spreading the virus in rural areas.  

"It should be noted the ban on the Idul Fitri exodus remains in place," Transportation Ministry spokeswoman Adita Irawati said on Wednesday. 

"The travel exemptions are the only change we've made, and even then travelers still have to follow strict health protocols set by the National Covid-19 Task Force," Adita said. 

Citilink President Director Juliandra Nurtjahjo said the budget airline was ready to follow the protocols. 

Customers must upload official documents when they buy their tickets and produce them in person when they check in. 

"Citilink fully supports the government's Covid-19 mitigation efforts by transporting passengers on essential travels and distributing supplies while following strict health protocols," Juliandra said. 

Lion Air's corporate communication head, Danang Mandala Prinhantoro, said tickets for Sunday flights were available for purchase from Thursday. 

"Passengers can buy the tickets from our headquarters in Jakarta or branch offices throughout Indonesia," Danang said.