Lion Air, AirAsia ground ops frozen after boo-boos

Forty passengers on a Lion Air flight from Singapore to Jakarta last Tuesday were sent to the domestic terminal by accident.

And in the confusion, 16 people left without going through immigration. So far, all except one of these passengers have been contacted, reported Indonesian news site Tempo.co.

One of the passengers was Natalie Falk-Gandarum, 31, a Swiss national who had gone to Singapore to renew her Indonesian work visa. She returned to Jakarta on Lion Air flight JT161 and knew immediately that something had gone wrong.

"I have to go on a visa run every six months to a year," she told The New Paper.

"I know that when one arrives on an international flight, one must go through immigration to get their passport checked and stamped. So it was a little strange that I did not."

Miss Falk-Gandarum was one of the passengers mistakenly taken to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport's Terminal One which serves as a domestic terminal.

She alerted airport workers about the error but they did not initially understand the nature of her situation.

When airport workers eventually realised what had happened, their attempts to remedy the problem led to yet more confusion.

She said: "They gave me bits and pieces of information.

"I had to find out things on my own, asked perhaps five people.

"They told me to take a shuttle bus to Terminal Two. There, we talked to an airport officer who told us to go to Lion Air office at the end of the terminal."

Eventually, Lion Air staff rectified the situation and accompanied Miss Falk-Gandarum to an immigration booth.

In the end, it took her about two hours to get her passport stamped. "I did not receive any apologies either," she said.

Lion Air is not the only airline to have wrongly let passengers off at a domestic terminal.

On Monday, 47 passengers on AirAsia flight QZ509 from Singapore to Bali erroneously left the Ngurah Rai airport via the domestic terminal, reported Channel News Asia.

All were eventually found and went through proper immigration clearance.

On Wednesday, both airlines had their ground handling permits frozen for the respective airports by the Indonesian Transport Ministry.

"The sanctions are issued so that all parties will be more careful when it comes to the safety of passengers," said Transport Ministry director-general of Air Transportation Suprasetyo at a press conference on Wednesday.

The airlines' flight schedules are not affected by the suspensions, said Channel NewsAsia.

The airlines have been given five days to find an operator for their ground-handling services.


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