In what news.com.au called “the craziest airport scene we’ve ever seen,” travellers went on a rampage last weekend after being stranded at Indonesia’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
More than 6,000 were caught up in extensive flight delays on the weekend when low-cost carrier Lion Air grounded 16 flights, saying “foreign objects” had damaged 3 of its planes.
The groundings occurred during the traditional long weekend period to mark Chinese New Year, where a high number of people were attempting to travel. The delays spread throughout the airline’s entire network, with pax also left waiting at major terminals in Surabaya, Bali and Medan.
“This is a domino effect,” airline spokeswoman Adhitya Simanjuntak said. “If the 1st flight was delayed, it continued to the next flight, and so it went on.”
At 1st, annoyed pax barricaded gates and staged noisy protests at JT counters and gates, but a Transport Ministry official said the problem soon spread until large parts of the terminal were in gridlock. “They (passengers) blocked the gates of other airlines, causing a number of delays,” he told AFP.
After being ground for as long as 24 hr, pax frustration spilled into rage and they began trashing the airport. Almost 500 police had to be called in to restore order, the JakartaGlobe reported.
Lion Air is Indonesia’s largest carrier, flying in 2014 over 36 million pax. It has 230 aircraft on order with Boeing and 234 with Airbus. However, the airline has been plagued over the year by a series of minor accidents and a reputation for less than average reliability.
The carrier is still on the blacklist of the European Union, and it is unlikely after such an event that it will leave that list anytime soon.