I really hope this doesn’t become a trend.
Indonesia carrier Lion Air is suspending all flights as of tomorrow because passengers reportedly “were either unable or unwilling to follow regulations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”
This leads to me wonder if we’ll see crackdowns or further suspensions elsewhere if people have difficulty following the rules.
Let’s look at the Lion Air situation.
The Primer on Lion Air
It’s been a tough couple of years for Lion Air. One of its 737 MAX 8s crashed on October 29, 2018, killing everyone on board.
Earlier this year, the airline suspended its domestic air service because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bangkok Post noted, “Indonesia banned air travel from April 24 to try to limit the spread of coronavirus through the archipelago, where confirmed infections are now approaching 28,000 cases. Some exceptions have been made for essential travel for certain businesses and for family emergencies, and after passengers pass tests to show they aren’t infected with the disease.”
Just after flights resumed, though, Lion announced this week it’s suspending all its flights until further notice.
In a press release posted its website, the airline said, “Lion Air Group’s decision with consideration of the evaluation of each previous flight operational implementation, that many prospective passengers are unable to carry out air travel due to lack of completeness of the documents as required by the terms and conditions set during…COVID-19.”
Lion Air mandated that its passengers (bold theirs):
Arrive early at the departure terminal which is four hours before departure,
Showing documents or completeness files, including
- Valid flight ticket,
- Official and valid personal identification (National Identity Card or other identification),
- Covid-19 free certificate or certificate , travel certificate and other documents that must be fulfilled according to Circular Number 5 of 2020,
- Results Rapid Test Negative Covid-19 maximum effective 3 days after it is issued; or
- Results Reverse Transcription – Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) negative Covid-19 apply a maximum of 7 days from the issued by health facilities; or
- Symptom-free certificate such as influenza for areas that do not have RT-PCR or Rapid Test facilities.
- Fill out an electronic health alert card (e-HAC) before leaving. Further information can be accessed through the e-HAC Indonesia application (Android) or http://sinkarkes.kemkes.go.id/ehac .
- In order to pay attention to the Regulations issued by the Regional Government, regarding the specific requirements of the final destination:
- DKI Jakarta, DKI Governor Regulation (Pergub) Number 47 Year 2020 concerning Entry and Exit License (SIKM)
- Denpasar, Bali, The Governor of Bali’s letter was responded to by the Minister of Transportation through the Directorate General of Civil Aviation who issued a letter numbered: UM.101 / 0002 / DRJU.KSHIU 2020 dated May 20, 2020 which was also addressed to the Regional Airport Authority Office IV. Director General of Civil Aviation Letter
- Pangkalpinang and Tanjung Pandan, Bangka Belitung Islands,Circular of the Governor of the Bangka Belitung Islands Number 440/0441 / BPBD / 2020 concerning the Passenger protocol and quarantine in the Bangka Belitung Islands Province.
Wearing a mask before the flight, while on the plane until it lands and exits the airport,
Washing hands or using germicidal liquid on the hands (hand sanitizer),
Maintain cleanliness while on the plane,
Suggest that prospective passengers bring their own hand sanitizer.
Lion Air’s statement references “many prospective passengers are unable to carry out air travel due to lack of completeness of the documents as required.” So were people too confused by the paperwork? Did they refuse to do it? Or were not enough passengers COVID-19 negative — and therefore couldn’t obtain some of the necessary documents?
More to the Story?
Bloomberg added, “Privately held Lion Air hasn’t provided guidance on how its financials have been affected by the virus, but it has already cut salaries of staff, including pilots, cabin crew and management, and deferred festive-season bonuses.”
It crossed my mind that perhaps money became such a problem for the airline that it had to suspend flights — but pointed the finger at passengers.
Or, perhaps, both reasons?
Will US Airlines Stop Flying if Passengers Don’t Obey Coronavirus Rules?
Call me naive, but I’m going to say no.
You may recall Frontier’s CEO threatened to divert flights if people don’t comply with the airline’s mask rule.
I doubt that’ll happen. (At least, I hope it doesn’t get to that point.)
Plus, airlines needs them that CARES money. If they refused to fly, Uncle Sam’s piggy bank may not be as generous to carriers.
Still, passengers don’t seem to like the idea of masks — especially on long flights. Reader George said, “I board my flights each week with a mask. I put it on right before I board. I remove it once we takeoff. There’s no way I’m wearing one for five hours while on a plane. Zero chance.”
Charles asked, “Do you think they will remove the requirement to wear a mask soon? I can’t imagine wearing one for more than a 2-hour flight.”
Where it may get sticky is if passengers must carry some sort of documentation that they’re COVID-19 immune (an “immunity passport”). If that becomes a requirement for travel, that could present some issues for airlines. Not everyone will be able to get vaccinated right away. And there will be people who flat out refuse to be vaccinated.
I’m not too concerned — but with the way this year is going, who knows.
Featured image: ©iStock.com/Gumpanat
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