Jakarta. State-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II has issued a new policy to prevent more passenger pile-ups at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport after hundreds ignored physical distancing guidelines to board their planes on Thursday.
The new policy was in place by Friday morning in Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.
Recently, the government decided to exempt business, emergency and repatriation flights from a travel ban issued to restrict the spread of Covid-19. Passengers were supposed to follow strict health protocols and bring travel documents which include a "free from Covid-19" certificate.
Febri Simatupang, Angkasa Pura II's senior manager, said staff at the airport had done their best to try to manage the crowd on Thursday morning. But too many passengers were arriving at Gate 4 in Terminal 2 at the same time, which made it impossible for them to impose physical distancing rules.
"The queue for document verification started to form at 4 a.m. We had 13 flights departing between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. – 11 Lion Air flights and two Citilink flights," he said on Thursday.
Angkasa Pura II President Director Muhammad Awaluddin said the new policy was designed to restructure the airport's queueing system, limit flight frequency and keep the number of passengers on each flight below 50 percent of its seat capacity.
"We've evaluated what happened [on Thursday] and implemented the new policy. This morning, domestic departures were running smoothly in Terminal 2 and 3," he said in a press release on Friday.
The queue for passengers in Terminal 2 is now divided into four stages. The first checkpoint for checking travel documents is located at the entrance of the terminal.
The second checkpoint is located inside the terminal building where passengers fill in their health alert card (HAC) and get their temperature checked.
Next, there's a checkpoint to verify the health certificate. The passenger will also be subjected to a medical test by a health official.
After that, the passenger can go to the check-in counter to get their boarding pass.
Awaluddin said passengers should have all their documents ready before they enter the airport to speed up the four-stage verification process.
They should also follow instructions from Angkasa Pura II staff and follow physical distancing guidelines.
"The new queueing system allowed a smoother flow of passengers in Terminal 2 and 3 this morning. We hope this can continue," Awaluddin said.
The airport operator has also limited the flight frequency in Terminal 2 to between five and seven flights per hour.
During the pandemic, the airport serves around 200 flights – both commercial and cargo – per day, operating from Terminal 2 (Gate 4) and Terminal 3 (Gate 3).