Lion Air founder Rusdi Kirana apologizes to families of JT610 crash victims

PHOTO: Reuters

Lion Air Group founder Rusdi Kirana has apologised to the families of passengers and crew aboard Lion Air flight JT610, which crashed into the Java Sea, saying that he was "deeply shocked" by the tragedy.

Rusdi, who is the current Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia, visited the families of victims at Ibis Cawang Hotel in East Jakarta on Tuesday, a day after the plane went down en route from Jakarta to Pangkalpinang in Bangka Belitung Islands on Monday morning.

"I apologise, whatever the reasons may be. I am currently trying my best," Rusdi said as quoted by "I extend my condolences. I am saddened and honestly, I am deeply shocked [by the incident]."

Lion Air management, Rusdi said on Tuesday, was ready to be audited following the crash. "If the findings in the [audit] point to our wrongdoing, we will not object to any penalty," he said.

Rusdi resigned from his position as Lion Air CEO in 2014. He was appointed by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo as a member of the Presidential Advisory Board in 2015, later resigning his membership when he was inaugurated as ambassador last year.

Lion Air plane carrying 189 people crashes into sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta

  • Chief of Indonesia's Lion Air flight JT610 search and rescue operations Muhammad Syaugi looks through recovered belongings believed to be from the crashed flight at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta
  • A pair of infant shoes is pictured among recovered belongings believed to be from the crashed Lion Air flight JT610 at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta.
  • There were 189 people on board flight JT610 of budget airline Lion Air when ground staff lost contact with the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft early on Monday, 13 minutes after it had left the airport in Jakarta, the capital.
  • Rescue team members arrange the wreckage, showing part of the logo of Lion Air flight JT610, that crashed into the sea
  • A crying mother shows a graduation picture of her son, Agil Nugroho Septian, who was a passenger on Lion Air flight JT610, that crashed into the sea, at her house in Tegal, Indonesia, October 29, 2018.
  • Lutfiani shows an undated picture of her husband, Deryl Fida Febrianto, a passenger on Lion Air flight JT610, that crashed into the sea, at her house in Surabaya, Indonesia, October 29, 2018.
  • A witness in the Karawang district said he had heard an explosion from the beach around the time the aircraft went down.
  • Sangeeta Suneja, mother of Bhavye Suneja, a pilot of Lion Air flight JT610 which crashed into the sea, reacts as she leaves for Jakarta, in New Delhi
  • Gulshan Suneja, father of pilot Bhavye Suneja.
  • Sony Setiawan (C) speaks to journalists at Pangkal Pinang airport in Bangka Belitung province on October 29, 2018, following his arrival on another airline after missing his pre-planned flight on Lion Air flight JT 610 which crashed off the coast north of Jakarta. - Setiawan was due to board the ill-fated Boeing-737 MAX but was held up on his commute to Soekarno-Hatta airport by Jakarta’s notorious traffic congestion.
  • A forensics team carries bodies of the victims of Lion Air flight JT610 to Sukanto National Police Hospital, East Jakarta, on Monday. In a statement, Lion Air said human remains had been collected in 24 body bags after sweeps of the crash site, which is about 15 km (nine miles) off the coast to the northeast of Jakarta.
  • Rescue team members carry a body bag with the remains of a passenger.
  • Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati hugs a relative of a victim of the Lion Air flight JT610 crash.
  • The Indonesian authorities have mounted a search and rescue operation for a Lion Air plane which crashed into the sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta on Monday (Oct 29) morning.
  • There are 189 passengers and crew on board the plane, including two infants, one child, two pilots and six cabin crew.
  • The plane plunged into Karawang Bay, West Java province, Mr Muhammad Syaugi, head of the national search and rescue agency, told a press briefing.
  • The waters at the crash site are around 30m to 35m deep.
  • "On the sea surface, we found debris… The location is two nautical miles from where the plane lost contact," he told reporters.
  • The crash site is near a facility of state-owned oil company Pertamina in West Java province. A video taken from a Pertamina vessel near the crash site showed oil patches on the water surface.
  • Officials said the plane had requested a return to base before finally disappearing from the radar.
  • Local TV footage also showed wallets and mobile phones that had been retrieved from the waters.
  • The head of Indonesia's national transportation safety committee (KNKT) Dr Soerjanto Tjahjono told reporters that the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane that crashed entered service in August this year and had clocked only about 800 flight hours.
  • When asked on the cause of the crash, Dr Soerjanto said: "We can't presume anything before finding the blackbox and also the recording from the (air traffic control) tower."
  • An Indonedian boatman takes pictures as debris from the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT 610 floats at sea in the waters north of Karawang, West Java province.

Rusdi, who cofounded the low-cost carrier Lion Mentari Airlines in 1999, helped oversee the expansion of Lion Air in the past decade to become the country's largest privately run airline.

In 2013 Lion Air ordered 234 aircraft from French manufacturer Airbus, earning Rusdi an award from the French government for the biggest purchase ever received by the company at that time.

The plane crash on Monday was the latest and worst incident involving Lion Air, which has been involved in a number of incidents over the past decade.

The management, Rusdi said, would provide the families of people aboard the downed JT610 with Rp 5 million (US$328) each to support their stay in Jakarta during the recovery of victims' bodies and subsequent identification process.

Another Rp 25 million would be provided by the management to support the funeral costs of those killed in the incident, he said.