TIGERAIR AUSTRALIA said it expects to resume flights to Bali from February 3, almost three weeks after the airline’s permission to fly to the island was revoked by Indonesia due to a bureaucratic technicality.
On January 12, Indonesia forced the budget subsidiary of Virgin Australia Holdings to cancel its flights for failing to comply with charter flight regulations. The flights had previously been considered regularly scheduled flights for regulatory purposes.
That left thousands of passengers stranded in Bali – known for its beaches, mountains and paddy fields and which is particularly popular with Australian tourists.
Tigerair on Thursday said it had received a “key approval” to fly to Bali using its A320s from February 3, subject to final procedural approvals being secured.
It needs to obtain a route permit and have an aircraft inspected to receive final approvals, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Tigerair plans to switch back to 737s when it receives a licence to fly those on its own from regulators in Indonesia and Australia, said the source, who did not want to be named due to rules on talking to media.
Over the past week, around 4,000 Australians stranded in Bali have returned on relief flights operated by Virgin and Tigerair, while other angry customers scrambled to purchase tickets on rivals like Jetstar and Garuda Indonesia during a heavily booked school holiday period.
Tigerair flights from Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to Bali, which began last March, were flying under Virgin Australia’s licence and using its pilots because Indonesia had not yet granted Tigerair approval to operate Boeing 737s on its own.
Tigerair’s current fleet comprises of Airbus A320 aircraft, which have a slightly shorter range and are unable to fly fully loaded from Melbourne to Bali in certain weather conditions. – Reuters