Garuda passengers stranded in Gorontalo

INDONESIA - Passengers of Garuda Indonesia flight GA 643, plying the Gorontalo-Jakarta route, were stranded for about eight hours with passengers blaming the situation on a lack of coordination and information from the national-flag carrier.

Rista, one of the 110 passengers, said the aircraft should have taken off from Jalaludin Airport, Gorontalo, at 1:50 p.m. local time (12:50 p.m. Jakarta time) on Saturday but was delayed to 3:30 p.m. local time.

"But there was no further information from the airline," she said.

It was only when passengers began to get angry that Garuda gave an update and said the flight would be further delayed to 5:30 p.m. local time due to engine trouble.

Passengers were given two options: wait in Gorontalo or fly to Makassar, South Sulawesi. Garuda said it would provide compensation for dinner, Rp 300,000 (US$27.23) in cash and lodging.

Rista said some 30 passengers opted to fly to Makassar's Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport and departed at 8 p.m. local time. However, they were left stranded, yet again, in Makassar and had to wait until midnight before Garuda provided them with somewhere to say. They continued on to Jakarta at 7:50 a.m. local time on Sunday.

Those who remained in Gorontalo departed for Jakarta at 1:30 a.m.

Garuda executive for Gorontalo, Indah Abidin, apologised for the delay but maintained that the airline had fulfilled all compensations. She said the delay was caused by technical problems with the aircraft's engine.