TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Air carrier Batik Air has allegedly violated physical distancing protocol during one of the carrier’s trips - flight ID 6376 - from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK) to Yogyakarta (YIA) on Thursday, October 15.
One of the passengers, Siska Novieta (28), recalled that none of the seats on board were left empty and she was forced to accept the option to sit in close proximity with other passengers amidst the pandemic.
“I already tried to ask the employee why they didn't apply physical distancing. But the cabin crew only told me to get seated and promised to give me distance if there were empty seats available. But in reality, there wasn’t,” said Siska to Tempo on October 15.
Her statement is backed by photographic evidence she sent to Tempo that showed the 3-3 configuration seats on the trip filled with passengers.
Siska viewed it as a violation after the government regulates air transport to only carry 70 percent of the total capacity during the coronavirus pandemic to prevent spreading the virus even wilder. This regulation is mentioned in the circulation (SE) No.13/2020.
Her trip, along with other passengers, was initially destined for Lion Air but was redirected to Batik Air which is believed to have caused the overcapacity. Batik is the subsidiary of Lion Air Group.
Lion Air Group Corporate Communications Strategic Danang Mandala Prihantoro confirmed that passenger capacity can exceed the limit set by the government in certain cases, for instance when the aircraft carry passengers in groups. In this case, he said the flight carried a total of 115 passengers with 47 of them under group passengers and 68 others are individual passengers.
Danang asserted that Batik Air continues to adhere to the physical distancing rule in its flights. He explained that the ones sitting side-by-side are from group passengers that were already confirmed to have tested COVID-19-negative.
“Passengers who are not from the group [family] will surely be seated on seats that are physically distanced,” said Danang.
FRANCISCA CHRISTY ROSANA