Indonesia’s aviation watchdog has defended its decision to ground Tigerair Australia flights last week, saying the airline has been summoned to explain itself.
Tigerair, which is fully owned by Virgin Australia, is accused of selling one-way tickets from Bali to Australia, which Indonesia’s Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said broke its charter licence rules.
Tigerair has denied it sold one-way tickets. When it was grounded last week, the travel plans of hundreds of passengers were left in chaos during peak holiday season.
The airline was later granted a reprieve until Monday to allow it to fly more than 2,000 customers home, on the condition no passengers were on board the aircrafts’ return journey.
The ban will be reinforced on the airline again from tomorrow.
“If Tigerair insists it is innocent we’ll let them prove it, and whether they deliberately broke the rules, that will be investigated,” DGCA spokesman Agoes Soebagio told ABC News.
The aviation regulator and the Indonesia embassy in Canberra have rejected an assertion by the airline that new administrative requirements or regulations had been put in place.
“Our Inspector’s investigation at the Bali airport found that Tigerair was selling the online ticket on its website from Bali to Australia. That is a violation of the agreement decided,” Mr Soebagio said.
“There have been no changes to our regulations. This is purely because we found evidence of violations.
“So I hope this also [will] straighten the misinformation from Australia’s side.”
The DGCA said the maximum penalty the airline could face is a permanent revoking of its licence, although negotiations were understood to be still underway.
The budget airline could also apply for a continuation of the charter licence it already has, or apply for a schedules licence which would allow greater flexibility in ticket sales, but would take months to ascertain.
The regulator told ABC News it imposed the ban during the peak holiday period because the violation was only established recently.
Tigerair has been flying on the charter licence between Australia and Bali for the past eight months.
“Our inspector has found a violation, that is why we took action straight away,” Mr Soebagio said.
“I don’t think that was unfair.”
Source & image: abc.net.au