AirAsia aircraft in near-collision with giant balloons in Indonesia during Idul Fitri

An AirAsia aircraft are seen at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 1.
An AirAsia aircraft are seen at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 1.PHOTO: EPA

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post/Asia News Network) - At least three flights in Indonesia reported “disturbances” on Saturday (July 9) after almost coming into contact with giant balloons released into the air as part of Idul Fitri celebrations, a news website reported.

“Adi Sutjipto airbase air traffic control reported at least three disturbances to flights due to the release of balloons on Saturday,” airbase spokesman Major Sus Giyanto was quoted as saying by Tempo.co.

An AirAsia pilot flying the Yogyakarta-Kualanamu route reported to the controller that his aircraft nearly collided with two balloons flying only 10m away at an altitude of at 18,000 feet. 

Another balloon was seen reaching around 30,000 feet.

Crew of two Citilink aircraft reported similar sightings in the skies over Godean, Sleman, north of Surakarta, at altitudes of 9,000 feet and 17,000 feet, respectively.

The balloons, powered by fire and measuring 5m in diameter and 10m in height, can reach altitudes of 35,000 feet.

Some Indonesian revellers like to release the balloons as part of wish-making rituals during Idul Fitri, which is known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri in Singapore and Malaysia and marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. 

Adi Sutjipto airbase operations chief Colonel Indan Gilang Buldansyah advised people not to release such balloons since they could disrupt flights and cause accidents.