Haze disrupts flights in Pekanbaru

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 22 Apr 13;

A thick haze on Monday morning forced authorities in Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport in Pekanbaru, Riau, to apply a flight ban from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. local time.

“The haze is hampering pilot visibility, which is reaching only around 200 meters. This is very dangerous and is far below flight safety standards. An aircraft will be permitted to take off only if the visibility from the cockpit reaches more than 500 meters,” said Ibnu Hasan, Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport's duty manager, in Pekanbaru on Monday.

Limited visibility caused delays to eight regular flights from and to Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport for several hours.

Passengers on Lion Air and Garuda flights to Jakarta and Wings Air to Batam, which should have departed at 6 a.m. local time, had to wait until the haze dispersed.

“At 8:30 a.m., cockpit visibility was beyond 800 meters, so it was quite safe for aircraft to take off,” said Ibnu.

Flights operated by Mandala Airlines and Lion Air from Jakarta, Wings Air from Batam, Air Asia from Bandung, and Silk Air from Singapore landed one at a time at the airport after 9:20 a.m., while they should have arrived at Pekanbaru between 7:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.

Ibnu said the airport’s operations started to return to normal after 10:20 a.m. “I have to underline that the haze that affected the airport’s operations this morning was caused by dew, not by smoke,” he added. (ebf)