Bali airport returns to normal after 'Lion' chaos

BALI - Ngurah Rai International Airport has returned to normal operations after two days of chaos on Saturday and Sunday, as several Lion Air Group flights experienced delays and cancelations.

Purwanto, general manager of the state-owned airport management company PT Angkasa Pura (PAP) I, admitted that Lion Air Group (Lion Air, Wings Air and Batik Air) had faced problems with their flight schedules since Saturday afternoon.

The problem emerged when one of Lion Air's fleet underwent a problem leading to the flight's cancelation and the rescheduling of existing flights from Ngurah Rai.

Purwanto also indicated the possibility of internal bickering between the management of Lion Air and its Bali staff.

"Saturdays and Sundays are usually the airport's peak days. This upheaval occurred on those two days when thousands of passengers wanted to fly," Purwanto said.

Lion Air had to delay every flight by around five to six hours; other flights had to be canceled, causing passengers to wait for hours in the airport's lounge.

Every day, Lion Air Group has at least 45 flights, or about 35 percent of total domestic flights from Ngurah Rai airport.

"The problems faced by the Lion Air Group affected the general operation of the airport. Passengers flying other airlines were also disturbed," Purwanto said.

Lion Air Group had asked its staff from Surabaya and Jakarta to support the Bali operation. But they came quite late and had to adjust to the ticketing and operation systems at Ngurah Rai.

The check-in systems were later implemented manually to speed up entry to the boarding gates.

A number of airport staff were also on duty to help process Lion Air Group passengers.

Ketut Tunggu, head of Cinta Bali Division, a travel agent catering to domestic tourists, separately said that the Lion Air chaos last weekend had not affected tourism in general.

"It could happen to any airline. It might be just technical and human resources problems. But we are expecting the management of Lion Air Group to deal with this issue and to improve its services," Tunggu said, adding that 70 percent of domestic tourists used Lion Air Group when traveling.

However, Bali Daily was not able to reach the management of Lion Air Group to obtain its comments.