Three flights diverted due to haze in Pekanbaru

PEKANBARU - Poor visibility, caused by thick haze, at Sultan Syarif Kasim II International Airport in Pekanbaru, Riau, forced the rerouting of three flights.

A Garuda Indonesia aircraft that was scheduled to land at Sultan Syarif Kasim II on Tuesday morning was diverted to Kualanamu International Airport in Medan, North Sumatra.

Meanwhile, a Lion Air plane from Jakarta, which was scheduled to arrive at 8 a.m., was rerouted to Batam, Riau Islands, as visibility dropped to less than 500 meters due to the haze.

The airport's duty manager Baiquni said the Garuda plane departed from Jakarta at around 4:30 a.m. and should have arrived in Pekanbaru, this morning.

"But due to the low visibility the pilot diverted the aircraft and landed in Kualanamu, Medan," he said in Pekanbaru on Tuesday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

Meanwhile, an Air Asia plane from Kualanamu Airport, Deli Serdang, was forced to return after it received information about the thick haze that was blanketing Pekanbaru Airport.

"Almost all flights were delayed," Baiquni said.

Despite the haze at Sultan Syarif Kasim II, several pilots were determined to land there and an Air Asia plane, flying from Bandung, West Java, arrived at 7:30 a.m.

"We, as the airport operator, are only required to inform of the conditions. We leave take off and landing decisions to the pilot and airline company," said Baiquni.

He said that the haze, from the ongoing forest and peatland fires in Riau, was the worst it had been over the last few months.