Airlines Seek Clarification on Rules for Flight Delay Compensation Program


Jakarta Globe | January 03, 2012


Several airlines are still not ready to implement a new regulation that will allow passengers to claim Rp 300,000 ($33) in compensation if their flights are more than four hours late.

Edward Sirait, a director at Indonesia’s biggest budget carrier Lion Air, said on Monday that the company was still finalizing the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for passengers to claim the compensation.

“We’re ready to implement the regulation, however the regulation still needs a clear cut definition on delay to avoid misunderstanding between passengers, airlines, and regulators,” he said on Monday.

He said that Lion could not be held responsible if the delay was caused by external factors, such as bad weather or other unpredictable incidents.

“There are incidents that we cannot control. For instance, if a destination airport is closed, or bad weather prevents us from flying and then we have to delay. Passengers need to understand that that’s hardly our fault and our responsibility,” he said.

The Transportation Ministry regulation, in effect from the start of the new year, states that passengers can collect Rp 300,000 from airlines if the flights are delayed for four hours or more.

The regulation, aimed at improving airlines’ services, is a big challenge for Lion, which holds the worst record for delays.

According to the ministry’s data, nearly 30 percent of its flights were delayed, but Edward said that this year Lion would do better.

Audrey Petriny, AirAsia Indonesia’s corporate communications manager, said the airline was also not ready to implement the regulation because the airline was still finalizing procedures.

“We’re still finalizing the SOPs and it will be completed in the near future,” she said.

More than 23 percent of the airline’s flights were delayed in the first half of 2011, according to the Transportation Ministry.

Meanwhile, national flagship carrier Garuda Indonesia is ready to implement the regulation and already has the instructions for compensation claims printed.

“We have told our station managers that passengers can claim Rp 300,000 if their flights are delayed for four hours or more,” said Pudjobroto, Garuda’s corporate secretary.

Pudjobroto also called for a more detailed definition of what constitutes a delay because Garuda does not want to be held responsible for delays caused by external factors.

“As long as the delay is caused by our own mistakes, we will compensate. But there are things that we cannot control and this is beyond our responsibility,” Pudjobroto said.

Garuda holds the best record among local airlines, according to the ministry’s data, with fewer than 15 percent of flights delayed last year.

Bambang Ervan, a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry, said that as of Monday there were no reports of four hour delays.

“We emphasize corrective actions instead of giving sanctions like revoking or suspending licenses,” he said.

“We want to increase productivity in the airline industry. Airline companies notorious for being late must provide one back-up airplane so they can meet our requirements.

“But if there are no measures taken to address the problem, we can sanction them.”