AirAsia Indonesia admits ‘administrative negligence’ in flight schedule change

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 15): AirAsia Indonesia has admitted that it committed "administrative negligence" when it requested for a change in its four-times-a-week Surabaya-Singapore flight schedule,  the Jakarta Post reported.

According to AirAsia Indonesia president director Sunu Widyatmoko, the company had only verbally informed the Transportation Ministry about operating the route on Sundays.

Speaking during the first hearing with the House of Representatives Commission V on transportation on Tuesday following the crash of QZ8501,  he said that the airline was allowed to fly on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The  Airbus A320-200 airliner crashed off the Indonesian coast on December 28, killing all 162 people on board.

AirAsia Indonesia had made a verbal request to change the flight schedule so that it could operate the route on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

“I admitted that administrative negligence occurred when requesting the change in flight schedule, as the verbal information failed to reach the ministry,” Sunu said.

“We will take this as a correction,” he said, reported the daily.

The absence of the Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan from the hearing drew criticism from House members, with House Commission V head Fary Djemi Francis stating that the minister was required to attend to clarify information gathered during the hearing.

Jonan was reportedly in Pangkalan Bun,  Central Kalimantan, where search and rescue operations are ongoing.

“The fact is that the flight took off. AirAsia said it had verbally requested a change in flight schedule. Is that according to the law?

“The ministry’s directorate-general for air transportation is responsible for this,” Fary reportedly said.

National Search and Rescue Team (Basarnas) chief Air Marshall FH Bambang Soelistyo and officials from the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) delivered their reports to the commission.

The daily also reported Golkar Party politician Muhidin as saying that Jonan's decision to increase the floor price of scheduled low-cost carriers following the crash had caused confusion among the people.

He added that the minister should have been present to explain his decision in detail.

Sunu also denied that the airline had cut its safety budget to maintain its low operational costs.

He also denied allegations that the flight did not have a weather report from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) before taking off from Surabaya on December 28.

Last week, Jonan suspended 61 flights from five different airlines found to be flying without proper permits.

He also suspended or transferred not less than 11 ministry aviation officials for their alleged involvement in allowing the flights to take off, The Jakarta Post reported.