Indonesia: Flights in Sumatra still affected by forest, land fires

Fadli The Jakarta Post 3 Dec 14;

Flights from Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam, Riau Islands, to a number of airports in Sumatra are still affected by haze as a result of land and forest fires.

A Lion Air flight departing to Pangkalpinang had to turn back to Batam after it failed to land at its destination, which was blanketed by haze.

Hang Nadim International Airport head of general affairs Suwarso told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that haze from fires continued to cloud several areas in Sumatra, affecting flights in the area.

“Among airports still affected by the haze are Sultan Syarif Kasim II in Pekanbaru and Sultan Taha in Jambi, as well as airports in Palembang and Pangkalpinang,” he said.

Suwarso said the haze had reduced visibility, causing planes to be unable to land.

Based on airport data, he said, Lion Air flight number JT 128 that departed to Pangkalpinang from Hang Nadim at 1 p.m. local time on Tuesday was forced to return to Batam as the destination airport had to temporarily close due to weather-related reasons.

“The aircraft was able to depart and land at Pangkalpinang later in the afternoon,” said Suwarso.

On Wednesday, flights to a number of areas in Sumatra from Hang Nadim International Airport ran smoothly. There were no delays or cancellations due to haze.

“We will still try to anticipate weather disruptions caused by the haze,” said Suwarso.

Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Batam chapter head Philip Mustamu said visibility in Batam had returned to above 10,000 meters during the last several weeks after haze from fires blanketing the area had reduced visibility to below 5,000 meters. (ebf)(+++)