Flights at Indonesia's Batam airport delayed due to haze

Australian water bombing aircraft are seen waiting for improved visibility at Palembang airport in Palembang, south Sumatra, on Sept 28, 2015.
Australian water bombing aircraft are seen waiting for improved visibility at Palembang airport in Palembang, south Sumatra, on Sept 28, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS/ANTARA FOTO

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Low visibility caused by the haze in Indonesia's Riau province led to the delay of flights at Batam's Hang Nadim International Airport on Tuesday (Sept 29).

Airport authorities said the visibility at the airport and in the surrounding areas had decreased to below 500m, forcing them to delay all flights scheduled to depart on Tuesday morning. Several flights scheduled to land in Hang Nadim were rerouted to other airports, they added.

"Visibility was still below 500m this morning. No flight has departed from the airport and flight arrivals have also been disrupted," Hang Nadim International Airport general affairs manager Suwarso was quoted as saying by the Antara news agency in Batam.

Antara reported that visibility had been getting worse since Monday afternoon, causing the disruption of flights bound for Hang Nadim. Based on airport arrival data, eight flights should have landed as of 8.30am local time on Tuesday, but reportedly no flights arrived.

Three departures, Lion Air flights departing for Jakarta and Pangkal Pinang and a Garuda Indonesia flight departing for Jakarta, have been delayed until the situation to improves.

"We have continued to monitor the situation and are still waiting for developments. Thick smoke blanketing the airport's runways is still disrupting our flight schedules," said Suwarso.

Those who came to pick up friends and relatives at Hang Nadim Airport said they had not yet received information on when the rerouted flights would arrive in Batam.

"I was informed that the Lion Air flight from Jakarta is still in Medan (in North Sumatra). It has not yet departed to Batam," said Rizal. The disrupted flight schedules have caused a passenger build-up at the airport's departure terminal.

Ferries were also affected, with ferry services temporarily halted by the Batam port master at 1pm on Tuesday. Services resumed at 4pm, according to a notice posted on the Singapore Cruise Centre's website

Meanwhile, Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said on Tuesday that thick smoke would continue to blanket several areas in Riau, potentially reducing visibility to around just 100m.

The agency's Pekanbaru head Sugarin was quoted by Antara new agency in Pekanbaru on Tuesday (Sept 29) as saying that wind that was moving towards Riau would make it difficult to avoid smoke coming from Jambi and South Sumatra.