Indonesian official closes airport because he couldn't get flight

“Shutting an airport violates Article 421 of the 2009 Law on Aviation,” says national police chief.
By Evan Bleier  |  Dec. 24, 2013 at 9:11 AM
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An Indonesian district chief closed down an airport on Saturday because he was told a flight was full, and 15 public order agency officers have been named as suspects in an investigation into the closure.

Marianus Sae, head of Ngada district in the eastern island of Flores, was told that a flight to Turelelo Soa airport early on Saturday was full.

Sae was hoping to get back to Ngada from the city of Kupang for a budget meeting so he did the only logical thing -- order public order officers to drive cars onto the runway and stop the plane from landing, forcing it to turn around.

"It is outrageous," Sae told the Jakarta Globe newspaper. "I begged for a ticket for five hours to fly to Ngada and their answer was: 'The flight is full.'"

Airport staff members were unable to stop the blockade and the airport remained closed for several hours.

Now the officers who carried out Sae’s order might get their wings clipped.

“Fifteen [Satpol PP officers] have been named suspects for violating the law and trespassing on the runway,” said East Nusa Tenggara Police chief Brig. Gen. I Ketut Untung Yoga Ana.

“Our law specifies that questioning of district heads requires permission, a recommendation from the governor,” Untung said. “[They] are investigating others first -- those whose questioning doesn’t require a letter. They need time. They’re working in stages.”

It’s unclear if Sae will get charged, but it does sound as if Sae violated Indonesia’s Aviation Law.

“Shutting an airport violates Article 421 of the 2009 Law on Aviation,” said National Police Chief Gen. Sutarman. “Blockading an airport is punishable by three years in prison and Rp 1 billion [$82,000] in fines.”

The police are conducting the investigation even though an official complaint was never filed.

“There are three [alleged] perpetrators: those who did it, those who helped and those who ordered it,” Sutarman said. “The punishment will be the same. We will question [all of them].”

[Jakarta Globe]

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