Forest fires on Sumatra and Borneo over the weekend forced the cancellation of over 100 flights.
The fires have been causing delays and cancellations, primarily to domestic flights around Indonesia but smoke and haze have also seen Supadio International Airport in West Kalimantan and Sultan Syarif Kassim II International Airport in Sumatra temporarily close.
Cancellations, delays, and diversions
As a result, Lion Air and Garuda Airlines had to cancel 100 flights between them.
According to AIN Online, Lion Air had 81 cancellations, 63 delays and nine diversions on Sunday, September 16, 2019, alone. Garuda and its offshoot, Citilink, canceled 18 flights.
The following day, Monday, September 16, 2019, 11 airports and 65 flights were disrupted around Kalimantan and Sumatra.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Transportation stepped in over the weekend in an effort to minimize disruptions and cancellations, saying that it would coordinate with the relevant agencies and stakeholders to strike a balance between public safety and maintaining flight operations.
In a statement the Ministry of Transportation spokesman Hengki Angkasawan said:
“The Ministry of Transportation has ensured that airports in Sumatra and Kalimantan affected by forest and land fires continue to operate. Even though it is operating, the Ministry of Transportation continues to coordinate with relevant stakeholders in order to maintain public safety and security.
We appeal to AirNav and operators such as AP II to be very careful in reading the situation and continue to coordinate with BNPB and BMKG. So if under certain conditions the aircraft must be delayed and prohibited from landing immediately get information.”
What’s causing the fires?
A report in the Nikkei Asian Review says the seasonal forest fires have been burning since July. The fires are spanning hundreds of thousands of hectares in the border area between Indonesia and Malaysia. The haze and smoke have seen airports and flights affected in both countries, setting off a political brawl.
The smoke and haze is affecting cities as far away as Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Jakarta. However, flights are operating normally out of these cities.
Most local airports now operating normally again.
The seasonal forest fires can burn for months every year once the dry season starts. Thus haze and pollution are normal right now. But such high numbers of flight cancellations aren’t at all. Source