Lion Air has decided to once again suspend all flights, as the Indonesian carrier deals with problems with passengers not complying with health protocols that were implemented in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The Lion Air Group began operating a number of short-haul flights on May 10th, finally resuming with a limited number of international and domestic flights on June 1st. However, the airline group which comprises of budget airline Lion Air, propeller airline Wings Air and full-service airline Batik Air, has been forced to introduce another temporary suspension effective June 5th.
The airline group stated that this new flight suspension “was based on considerations from an evaluation of previous flight operations, that many prospective passengers were unable to carry out air travel because they did not complete the required documents and conditions during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic alert period”.
The Indonesian government has imposed a number of mandatory requirements that must be adhered to, before passengers can board an aircraft. These include arriving four hours before departure, producing documents that include a valid test certificate for COVID-19 and finally a letter of correspondence from a company, a doctor or family stating the reason for travel. The Indonesian government has made it even more challenging for airlines to even make a profit on these flights, as the government has limited load factors on aircraft.
The Jakarta-based airline group has already undertaken measures to adhere to health protocols onboard. These measures include blocking out the middle seat, deep cleaning each aircraft and replacing the air filters on planes suspected of a passenger onboard having the virus. Like many airlines around the world, the Indonesian carrier has introduced face masks as a mandatory requirement for all passengers and is encouraging passengers to "bring their own hand sanitizer."
The Lion Air Group said that it supports the government regarding “the prevention efforts of COVID-19 spread, through active participation in implementing the health protocols that have been established by the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Health and Task Force”. The airline has not issued a date for when flights might resume, but the airline group indicated that they will “continuously monitor” the situation. The airline group also plans to “collect data and information” that will facilitate the implementation of various steps, in order “to prepare for upcoming flight services”.
The Lion Air Group remains committed to the implementation of “health protocols according to the provisions that do not lead to the spread of COVID-19” and will continue to follow the necessary security and safety directions when recommencing flight operations.