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Lion Air’s first 737 MAX 9. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Huy Do)

Lion Air Suspends Flights Until Further Notice

On June 3, 2020, the Jakarta-based Lion Air group announced that it would be suspending flight operations starting on June 5, 2020. The suspension of flights applies to all Lion Air, Wings Air and Batik Air flights on both the domestic and international level.

In a press release, the airline group said that this decision was made on the basis 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.”

This announcement comes just days after the Lion Air Group restarted flying following a five day suspension between May 27 and May 31. The late-May suspension was used by the airline to share information regarding new requirements regarding boarding. While the initial grounding lasted for just five days, the airline stated that this newest suspension will last until further notice. 

Since April 24, nearly all travel in Indonesia has been banned with travel being allowed for essential business and family emergencies. However, to fly on these few operating flights, passengers had to pass certain protocols including providing special documents. These documents included having to prove that they were not infected with COVID-19 and that their reason for travel fell under one of the permitted guidelines. The travel process also required passengers to show up at least four hours before their flights, in order to go through all of the proper screening processes. 

The complete suspension of all flight operations for the Lion Air Group will leave a total of 138 Lion Air aircraft grounded and a further 140 Wings Air and Batik Air planes grounded for the foreseeable future. 

The airline did announce that all travelers scheduled to fly on June 5 or later would receive full refunds or could change their departure date to a later date without any additional costs of fees. While it may be due to an issue with translations, the refunds being offered are simply flight credit vouchers that must be used within a year of the issued date.

Air travel in Indonesia has suffered greatly following the start of the worldwide pandemic. According to the Central Statistics Agency of Indonesia, foreign tourist numbers were down almost 88% in April 2020 when compared to April 2019. When compared to March of 2020, April’s numbers were not much better seeing a 66% drop in a single month. 

Lion Air’s Thai subsidiary, Thai Lion Air, announced on June 2 that it is preparing to resume international flights in early July, following the lifting of Thailand’s ban on international flights. The Bangkok-based airline announced that its plan includes four weekly flights from  Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport to Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. There was no indication if these flights would be affected by the grounding of the Indonesian based carriers in the Lion Air Group.

The carrier also plans to start less than daily flights to Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport and Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport. The flights to Nepal are subject to the Nepalese government not extending an international travel ban, currently in place through June 30.

Jace Moseley
Jace Moseley
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