Lion Air Suspends Flights Again After Less Than A Week Of Operations

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Indonesia’s largest airline by fleet size, Lion Air, is grounding its aircraft and re-suspending all flights, both international and domestic. The move was made effective Friday, June 4th, and will see the airline’s passenger operations cease until further notice. This tough decision is due to Lion Air’s discovery that most of its passengers have been unable to comply with new government-mandated COVID-19 protocols.

Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air,
Lion Air is Indonesia’s largest airline by fleet size. Photo: Getty Images

“Lion Air Group’s decision 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 Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic alert period.” -Lion Air statement

Passengers unable to meet health protocol requirements

The airline resumed operations on Monday, June 1st. However, in its first few days of resuming service, it discovered that the majority of passengers could not meet requirements set by the government on COVID-19 precautions.

As per the Indonesian Transportation Ministry’s decision, passengers flying for business and family reasons must show medical documents confirming a COVID-19-free status. Additionally, supporting documentation (in the form of a letter) must accompany travelers that demonstrate a family emergency or the need for business travel. Documentation for the latter must come from the employer of the passenger.

“Many passengers had to cancel their trip because they could not show the required documents…Lion Air Group will offer full refunds to passengers who have bought tickets or help them reschedule their flights without additional costs.” -Lion Air spokesperson via Jakarta Globe

Lion Air 737
The majority of Lion Air’s fleet consists of Boeing 737NG aircraft. Photo: Afrogindahood via Wikimedia

Accommodating cancelations

Lion Air Group says it will assist all passengers who have already purchased a ticket through a refund or rebooking without any fees or deductions. The airline asks all those affected to call their head office and Ticketing Town Office of Lion Air Group in all cities in Indonesia, or call center customer service 021-6379 8000 and 0804-177-8899. Passengers can also do this via the email address: refund.voucher@lionair.co.id.

“Lion Air Group supports government related to 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 acceleration handling COVID-19 in each environment and activities of the company and socialize in the environment around the company.” -Lion Air

Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX
The airline was already having a difficult 2019 with the Boeing 737 MAX grounding. In October 2018, it was the first of two airlines to suffer a disastrous crash of a 737 MAX. Photo: Boeing

The difficulty of a new normal

While the need for this type of documentation hopefully won’t be the new normal, it is part of adjusting to air travel in the midst of a pandemic. Gone (for now) are the days of booking a flight and showing up to the airport with only the proper ID and visa requirements.

Instead, passengers now need to take the added step of making sure that their destination is accepting passengers from their region or nationality, as well as if any medical documents are required.

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Clearly, customers of Lion Air this week were unaware of these requirements and/or were hoping to be exceptions to these new regulations.

Do you think the Indonesian Government’s new regulations are too strict and prohibitive? Or are they necessary during a time like this? Let us know in the comments.

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