Hundreds of Lion Air passengers stand in a line to claim refund after their flights were delayed at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)

Lion Air Says Flights Back on Schedule, But Delays Roll On


FEBRUARY 22, 2015

Jakarta. Lion Air announced on Sunday that its flights were back to normal scheduling after days of disruption, but conceded some routes were still experiencing delays.

Customers were forced to wait for up to 24 hours at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport after a cascade of delays hit the low-cost carrier starting on Wednesday, sparking frustration that occasionally flared into violence.

The airline's general director Edward Sirait said on Sunday that Lion Air was operating on schedule even if some flights were still experiencing delays.

"We are trying our hardest to prevent delays but things can be out of our control. It is very situational, but based on what has happened in Jakarta, we believe we can now try to avoid severe delays," Edward said.

Nearly 500 police officers were deployed to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Friday as passengers' frustration boiled over due to long waits and lack of information.

On Friday, a group of passengers forced its way onto the airport's Terminal 3 apron and besieged a parked Lion Air airplane. There were also reports of Lion Air staff being held captive.

The delays were partly blamed on damage to three Lion Air airplanes from "foreign objects," which had a knock-on effect, disrupting subsequent flights.

Edward claimed on Sunday that all Lion Air airplanes had been approved for flight. He also dismissed claims that the disruptions were caused by Lion Air pilots on strike.

"If some people went on a strike, they would have stated their demand and gone on a massive demonstration, but the fact is there was no such thing. It was just a rumor," he said.

The airline general director also addressed the claim that the company had supposedly been unable to refund passengers because of "cash shortage."

"Actually we did have cash but the amount was insufficient. We wanted to withdraw cash from the banks but they were closed. That's why we borrowed some cash from Angkasa Pura," Edward said.

He denied Angkasa Pura, the state-run airport operator, had given his airline special treatment by providing Rp 3 billion ($233,000) to help refund passengers.