[JAKARTA] PT Lion Mentari Airlines cancelled all of its flights due to leave Jakarta on Friday evening as police were deployed to the airport to control frustrated passengers, some of whom had been stranded since Wednesday.
Lion, Indonesia's biggest low-cost carrier, said in a statement on Friday that all flights scheduled to leave from 5 p.m. to 12 midnight would be cancelled due to three planes experiencing "foreign object damage." The airline cited the same reason in a statement on Thursday, which said that some flights had been delayed since Wednesday. Police were sent to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to "prevent unwanted incidents," said Transport ministry spokesman Julius Barata.
"We will check if there are any violations or breaches conducted by Lion Air," he said. The situation at the airport has improved on Friday, Barata said.
The widespread delays, which happened during the peak Chinese New Year holiday season, caused frustrated passengers to storm the Lion Air duty manager's office on Thursday, according to a report in the Jakarta Post. The situation is a setback for Lion, whose co-founder Rusdi Kirana is a member of President Joko Widodo's advisory board, which has an aggressive expansion plan in place.
The carrier ordered 230 Boeing 737 planes in 2012 and followed that with an order for 234 Airbus planes last year.