Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Jakarta, Sept 9, 2015 (Antara) -  Forest and plantation fires producing thick smog have flared up on the islands of Sumatra, Kalimantan, Java and Sulawesi during the El Nino-induced drought at present. 
    The Transportation Ministry has reported that 16 airports on the Sumatra and Kalimantan Islands have been impacted by the smog hanging over the region for the past one week.
         "The visibility decreased to below 800 meters, preventing any plane from landing," the ministry's Spokesman J.A. Barata said in a press statement on Sept. 7, 2015.

         In Kalimantan, on Sept. 7, the affected airports were the Melalan Melak Airport in Kutai (East Kalimantan Province), the Syansyudin Noor Airport in Banjarmasin (South Kalimantan), the Beringin Airport in Muara Teweh, the Iskandar Airport in Pangkalan Bun and the Haji Asan Airport in Sampit (Central Kalimantan), along with the Supadio Airport in Kubu Raya, the Pangsuma Airport in Putussibau, the Susilo Airport in Sintang, the Rahadi Usman Airport in Ketapang, and the Tjilik Riwut Airport in Pontianak (West Kalimantan),  and the Atty Besing Airport in Malinau (East Kalimantan). 
    In Sumatra, on the same day, the smog-hit airports included Ferdinand Lumban Tobing in Sibolga, and the Silangit Airport in North Tapanuli (North Sumatra), the Sultan Thaha Airport in Jambi, and the Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport in Pekanbaru (Riau), and the Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang, Bangka Belitung. 
    On the next day (Sept. 8), smog continued to cause flight delays and cancellations at a number of airports on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, according to the transportation ministry.  
    The smog arising from forest fires in Kalimantan affected airports located in Pakangkaraya, Pangkalan Bun, Melak, Lombok, Palembang, Berau, Pontianak, Pekanbaru, Banjarmasin, Ketapang, Malinau, Putusibau, Muara Teweh, Sintang, and Wong Apung, among others.
         In Central Kalimantan, the smog has led to the cancellation of 50 flights since August 22 and has caused delays to 80 others.
         Meanwhile, flight cancellations and delays continued to occur until Sept. 8, M. Kasturi, the head of the Central Kalimantan air transportation office, stated in Palangkaraya.
         "Some of the cancelled flights were scheduled from Palangka Raya (the region's capital) to Jakarta, Palangka Raya to Balikpapan, Palangka Raya to Pontianak, and Palangka Raya to Pangkalan Bun," he noted.
         He remarked that based on the office data, the delays in flights ranged from 30 minutes to eight hours and 30 minutes.
         Kasturi said the airline companies that cancelled or delayed flights included Garuda, Susi Air, and Kalstar.
         "Cancellations and delays usually occurred in the morning until afternoon when visibility reached below 700 meters. In the evening and night, the weather was generally better, and visibility was above the required standard," he emphasized.
         In view of this situation and the increasing haze in the past two weeks, the air transportation office of Central Kalimantan has suggested raising the status from Haze Emergency Alert to Haze Emergency Response.
         "We hope the emergency response status could be immediately imposed as the situation has now become very serious," he stated.
         On Sumatra Island, at Sultan Thaha Airport in Jambi Province, five airlines canceled the departures of their flights on Sept. 8, the ministry's spokesman, J.A. Barata, noted in a press statement.
         The airlines are NAM Air, Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air, and Citilink.
         Garuda Indonesia, Sriwijaya Air, Lion Air, and Citilink have announced that they would stop flights to and from Jambi until September 10.
         On the previous day (Sept. 7), as many as 22 flights to and from the Sultan Thaha Syaifudin Airport were cancelled.
         The airlines that canceled their flights were Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, CitiLink, and Nam Air, the airport's acting General Manager, Gurit Setiawan, stated in Jambi.
         "Not a single aircraft has landed at the airport today. Many airlines have cancelled their flights. Ten flight arrivals to and 12 flight departures from the airport have been cancelled, meaning that a total of 22 flights have been cancelled," he remarked.
         At Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport in Pekanbaru, Riau Province, the smog caused by forest fires led to 16 flight delays and six cancellations on Sept. 8 as the visibility dropped to below 500 meters.
         "Today's flights are affected (by smog), causing 16 delays and six cancellations," General Manager of Sultan Syarif Kasim II Dani Indra Irawan remarked.
         Garuda Indonesia and Citilink cancelled flights to Jakarta, while AirAsia cancelled flights to Bandung.
         Flight delays were experienced by 11 airlines: Lion Air, Garuda Indonesia, Batik Air, Indonesia AirAsia, Susi Air, Silk Air, Citilink Indonesia, AirAsia, Firefly, Sriwijaya Air, and Malindo Air.
         However, flights resumed in the afternoon as the visibility improved up to 1.5 thousand meters.
         Since September 2, haze has frequently affected the Pekanbaru airport, and on September 3, the airport's operations were nearly paralyzed.
         In the meantime, environmental expert from the University of Riau Tengku Ariful Amri affirmed that the haze problem in the province had started in 1990.
         The environmental disaster has forced schools to temporarily shut down, and offices as well as companies to shorten their working hours, he remarked.
         The forest fires have also destroyed the biological diversity and natural resources. 
    "Many do not realize that the forest and plantation fire disaster, which occurs annually and causes haze problem, has harmed the nation's future," he added.***1***

(T.F001/A/F. Assegaf/Bustanuddin) 09-09-2015 22:45:48

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