DID LION AIR FLOUT SECURITY REGULATIONS?
Thursday January 29, 2004
Passengers not on flight, but luggage went on to Jakarta
AS THE number of budget airlines increase in the region, one airline
appears to have justified some passengers' fears that safety standards
could drop along with ticket prices.
On Jan 15, two passengers checked in four luggage items at Changi Airport
for Lion Air flight JT159 to Jakarta.
They were issued boarding passes, but they arrived at the gate late and
were refused entry.
According to a security directive by both the International Civil Aviation
Organisation and Changi Airport, the staff of Lion Air should have
offloaded the passengers' baggage.
But, to the passengers' astonishment, their luggage flew to Jakarta
The issue is not that they were inconvenienced; they picked up their bags
two days later after taking a subsequent flight. The issue is safety. All
manner of things, including bombs, could have been in the bags.
The passengers asked a friend of theirs, Mr Mubaraq Ishak, to write to the
airline on their behalf seeking an explanation.
Mr Mubaraq handed in such a letter at the airline's Bencoolen Street
office on Jan 17, but he said he received no response.
So, he approached the press.
The Lion Air station manager at Changi, Ms Sherry Nathala, who was in
Jakarta yesterday, told Today she had tried to call Mr Mubaraq, but had
received no reply.
When asked by Today why and how the incident had occurred, she said: "We
tried to wait for the passengers until the time when we had to take off.
"I, as the station manager, and the pilot decided to leave the baggage on
board because we trust the screening of the airport." She said this did
not always happen and it had been "only this once".
But, asked why this particular time had been so different, she said she
couldn't remember why and explained that she would have to check her books
as she had many things to remember, with four flights daily.
The transgression, however, could land the airline in trouble.
Police spokesman Stanley Norbert told Today that it was the airline's
responsibility to offload the luggage of passengers who failed to board
the plane. Failing to do this is an offence under the Air Navigation
(Aviation Security) Order.
"The offending party or person responsible shall be fined up to $5,000 or
jailed to a maximum of 12 months or both. The police take a serious view
of such non-compliance and will be looking into the matter," he said.