Thu, 10 Jul 2003

Councillors to sue Jatayu for 9-hour delay

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan, North Sumatra

At least 10 councillors in North Sumatra province plan to file a class action suit against a private airline for leaving them and 150 other passengers stranded for nine hours at Polonia Airport.

The members of the North Sumatra Legislative Council said they would also recommend that the central government revoke the license of PT Jatayu Airlines over the delay.

The councillors were among 160 passengers, who were to fly to Jakarta aboard a Jatayu flight from the airport in Medan, North Sumatra, on Tuesday.

The plane was scheduled to leave for Jakarta at 3:20 p.m., but delayed its departure until 11:30 p.m.

Many other passengers had to wait even longer for the same flight as it was originally scheduled for 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers, who were to travel by a Jatayu flight from Jakarta to Medan, also endured a long delay.

"We will sue Jatayu and issue a recommendation for Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications Agum Gumelar to revoke the airline's license," Karseno, a member of the council's Commission V who was one of the stranded passengers, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday night.

He argued that the Tuesday flight delay was not the first to take place involving the airline, and said the company had also frequently "disappointed" other passengers.

Karseno said that before filing the class action suit against the airline, the council would summon the Jatayu management to clarify the prolonged delay.

The other passengers, who were also stranded on Tuesday, would back the councillors' suit, he said.

Iskandar, one of the passengers, admitted that Jatayu did not provide the frustrated passengers with meals or other services during the nine-hour delay.

"We are extremely disappointed with Jatayu over the long delay. The company did not inform us beforehand. We had to stage a demonstration first, only then Jatayu gave a response," he said.

Responding to the case, Jatayu's lawyer Junirwan apologized to the passengers on behalf of the company, saying the delayed departure was because of engine trouble.

The plane suffered a "technical problem", forcing the management to postpone the flight, he said.

"Whatever the technical problem is, we must fix it for the safety of passengers," Junirwan told a news conference on Wednesday, without elaborating further.

Asked about the councillors' plan to sue Jatayu, he said the company could understand.

However, the lawyer said he hoped the disappointed passengers would cancel the plan, and offered to settle the case amicably without necessarily disadvantaging one another.

"The management has given them compensation, including Rp 100,000 per passenger," Junirwan said.