Flight disruptions cause $1.4m losses to Indonesian airports
THE BIG HAZE
THE haze has hit Indonesian airports hard. Several airports in several provinces in Sumatra and Kalimantan, areas badly affected by raging forest fires, are reported to have lost nearly 2.7 billion rupiahs (S$1.4 million) so far due to frequent flight cancellations and closures.
It will be even gloomier in the next few weeks for airport authorities and visitors as conditions worsen.
The Director-General for Air Communications, Mr Zainuddin Sikado, said that so far, there have been 800 flight cancellations and airport closures.
“We have lost a lot of money because of the haze,” he was quoted by Media Indonesia, an Indonesian language daily, as saying.
Riau, Padang, Banjarmasin, Jambi, Tarakan, Palangkaraya, Pinang and Pontianak were affected by the thick smoke emanating from Indonesia’s largest provinces.
Worst hit, according to Mr Zainuddin, are the airports in Padang, Riau and Pontianak.
The problem is more far-reaching because of its ramifications on other sectors of the economy, particularly the tourism sector as well.
Various hotels have reported a sharp drop in occupancy rates. At Mahkota hotel in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, staff say occupancy rates have nose-dived by nearly 50 per cent because of a drop in visitors to the province.
The government has tried to circumvent the problem by starting cloud-seeding operations over Sumatra and Kalimantan.
The operations over Sumatra started last Wednesday. Environment Ministry officials said that it had induced artificial rain and visibility had improved.