Indonesia has banned commercial flying from 24 April until 1 June, in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The ban on commercial flying was part of a larger travel ban imposed by the Indonesian government on Indonesians seeking to travel back to their hometowns to mark the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, which falls on 24 May.
The country’s director general for civil aviation, Novie Riyanto, was quoted in a 23 April CNBC Indonesia report as saying that the ban would apply to both scheduled and charter flights operating to domestic and international destinations.
He adds that exceptions would only apply to cargo, medical, and repatriation flights, as well as flights carrying state leaders and their representatives, and those of international organisations. Indonesia’s air navigation service will continue to operate, and airports will handle flights that remain in service.
Although the ban on commercial flying was meant to start today, the transport ministry decided to grant a one-day dispensation for domestic flights to operate, citing the need to allow carriers to fulfil their obligations to passengers who had booked tickets before the ban was announced.
It is also unclear if the ban will be extended beyond 1 June, and into this year’s Hajj season. The start of Hajj travel this year is likely to start at the end of June or early July, pending approvals from Saudi Arabia.
Cirium schedules data show that in April, seven Indonesian carriers offered 9.45 million seats on domestic services, a 4.8% decline year-on-year. The number of seats on international services fell by 82% to just 139,000 seats.
The decline in domestic seat capacity was driven by capacity reductions from Garuda Indonesia, Citilink, Indonesia AirAsia, Sriwijaya Air and Wings Air. On the other hand, Batik Air grew its capacity by 29% while Lion Air added 18% more seats in April.
On international flights, both Indonesia AirAsia and Wings Air halted their overseas flying, while the remaining five carriers reduced their seat capacity by up to 93%.
Lion Air Group did not respond to Cirium’s request for comment on the ban. Indonesia AirAsia had suspended operations since 1 April, citing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In its outlook for the next six months, Garuda said it expects conditions will deteriorate as there is a lack of clarity as to when the pandemic will end.
Following the ban, state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura I says it is working on an arrangement where aircraft parked at the 15 airports it manages will not affect the operations of cargo flights that continue to be in service.