Image: Garuda Indonesia still forging ahead. Credit: garuda-indonesia.com
Airlines are stating clearly that they are concerned about the government’s regulations related to passengers having to show a PCR swab test or rapid test before traveling by plane around the archipelago. The provisions are predicted to make people reluctant to travel and thus airlines, who are already suffering great loses, are now facing the real possibility of going bankrupt in the immediate future.
“Prospective travelers need to have deep pockets to find the extra Rp1.8 million-Rp2.5 million for a single PCR test, while the rapid test costs around Rp300 thousand – Rp500 thousand.”
Garuda Indonesia President Director Irfan Sebuahutra has been speaking about this present regulation to the press and according to him the cost of a PCR test right now is more expensive than the price of most one-way tickets in Indonesia. This obviously is unviable for the majority of travelers. As a result, he says the airline businesses of Indonesia will either go out of business or lay in the financial doldrums for months ahead.
“The PCR test, which was Rp2.5 million and some have lowered the price, is far more expensive than (tickets) for traveling,” Irfan was quoted as saying to CNN on Thursday (4/6).
“Then worse, if you travel for seven days, that means you have to double the PCR test and the cost would be Rp. 5 million,” said Irfan.
For this reason, he suggested that the process be simplified and the PCR costs should become cheaper.
“If not, the industry’s performance has the potential to plummet in the near future,” he told Tribune Bali.
Drastic steps have now been taken by the Lion Air Group, who again have had to temporarily stop selling tickets to domestic and international passengers starting from today, June 5. Lion Air Group stated that they have to do this because many prospective passengers could not fulfill the documents required to travel or just gave up the idea of travelling at all.
Flight observer of the Indonesian Aviation Network Gerry Soejatman said the obligation of prospective passengers to have negative corona virus test results is very burdensome for the aviation industry. Another problem is that there are different rules between the central and regional governments.
Gerry said the central government gave two options to the public, namely the PCR test and rapid test. So, if the price of a PCR test is too expensive then the public can choose a rapid test. (The old kasihan back again. Ed)
However, some local governments require people to do a PCR test if they want to travel to their area. The areas in question are Bali, Jakarta, Balikpapan, Pangkalpinang, Padang and Tanjung Pandan.
“This is a great burden for the airlines, both Garuda Indonesia and other airlines,” said Gerry.
Gerry considered that if the policies of the central and regional governments were not synchronized, more aircraft would only remain parked because of the decreasing demand. If this continues to happen over the next months, the potential for the bankruptcy of the aviation industry is at hand, he stated.
“Yes, if the airline industry is bankrupt, then who else will follow? Yes, hotels, restaurants, meeting places, and so on,” he said.
Gerry suggested that the central and regional governments standardize their regulations and allow the use of rapid test results for people who want to travel. That way, demand has the opportunity to increase again in the aviation sector.
In other Indonesian aviation news
It was announced today that Garuda Indonesia will be receiving a government bailout of around Rp 8.5 trillion. The deal has already been discussed and is just waiting for the official signing.
Airasia announced last week that it will recommence some domestic and international flights from June 8, 2020.
Restrictions on commercial aviation, due to the Idul Fitri homecomings, which were put in place back in mid-May were extended to June 7 this week.