Update: Passengers Irate After Days of Delays in Pekanbaru
All flight activities at Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport in Pekanbaru, Riau, returned to normal on Thursday following cancellations caused when a Garuda Indonesia flight skidded off the runway on Tuesday.
Airport authorities said they finally managed to tow the stricken aircraft onto the apron early on Thursday morning.
“All flights have resumed their normal schedules as of this morning,” Anggono Raras, the general manager of state airport operator Angkasa Pura II, said at the airport on Thursday.
The resumption of normal operations came too late for some travelers, however. Nineteen flights were canceled after the incident, leaving hundreds of people stranded at the airport.
Many ended up spending the next night at the airport because airlines refused to accommodate them in hotels.
Airlines affected by the cancellations included Batavia Air, Lion Air and Sriwijaya Air.
A Lion Air manager unsuccessfully tried to calm irate customers. Some customers reportedly chased him into an office, where he hid.
“Lion handled the crisis badly after the Garuda plane skidded off the runway,” said Fitri, a passenger who was supposed to fly to Jakarta on Tuesday night.
“They were not prepared at all. We will wait until there’s an explanation from them about the cancellations.”
Other passengers complained that they were not even offered food, and insisted on staying at the airport until the airlines explained the situation to them.
Bachtiar, a district manager for Batavia Air, said the company refused to pay for hotels for their stranded passengers because the delay was not Batavia’s responsibility.
“This was a Garuda incident that impacted others, including other airlines,” Bachtiar said.
“No hotel compensation [was] offered because it was not Batavia’s mistake. It might seem as though we are lacking in understanding. We apologize, but it is our policy not to give hotel compensation under these kinds of circumstances.”
A limited flight schedule resumed on Wednesday because part of the runway was still blocked.
Anggono said the process of towing away the Garuda plane ended at 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, 33 hours after the plane skidded off the runway.
The National Committee for Transportation Safety (KNKT) said an investigation into the incident was now under way. Masruli, a KNKT official, said the agency had collected information, including flight data and weather conditions at the time.
“That also includes data on the airport’s runway,” he said.
He said the KNKT would need about 10 months to complete its probe, but would issue a preliminary recommendation to prevent similar incidents from occurring.