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21 April 2024

Floods force Indonesian airline to shift airport base

By Agencies


Flooding that cut the main access route to Jakarta's international airport has prompted Indonesia's Merpati Nusantara Airlines to shift its flight base, a spokesman said Monday.

The floods, triggered by monsoon rains, left three dead and forced some 90,000 to flee their homes. They blocked the road to Sukarno-Hatta airport on Friday and only fully receded early Monday, television and radio reported.

The torrential rains also forced the airport to shut for several hours on Friday.

"We are today (Monday) starting to move some of our domestic flights to Halim Perdanakusumah," Merpati spokesman Purwatmo told AFP, referring to an airport in East Jakarta.

He said all 16 routes would be shifted in the next few days to Halim, which is more accessible to staff and passengers.

"At the moment this is only a temporary move, but we will see, after a month, whether the facilities are the same (as at Sukarno-Hatta). If so we are considering the possibility of staying at Halim," Purwatmo said.

Halim was Jakarta's main airport in the 1980s but now serves only a few short-distance commercial flights and charters. The runway is shared with the airforce, based next door.

Friday's airport closure affected more than 230 scheduled flights and combined with the blocked access road left thousands stranded for hours.

Indonesia's monsoon hits a peak from December to February. In February 2007, flooding in the capital and nearby killed 85 people and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

This year's floods occurred despite the government earmarking a billion dollars towards preventing a recurrence. (AFP)