Tigerair Australia has stopped ticket sales for services to Bali as it seeks a resolution with Indonesian authorities on its flights to the popular tourist destination.
The airline has “paused” sales of tickets to and from Bali until March 25 while discussions continue talks with Indonesia regarding its operating permits for flights from Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth.
“Tigerair Australia continues to work constructively with the Indonesian Government, and I am confident we are making good progress on options to resume services as soon as possible this week,” Tigerair chief executive Rob Sharp said in a statement.
“We have put a temporary pause on the sale of flights to Bali as we believe this is the right thing to do by the consumer, and we plan to be back on sale again very quickly.
“We are doing everything we can to get back to normal Bali operations as soon as possible, and prioritising the return of our customers currently in Bali back to Australia.”
On January 10, Tigerair was forced to suspend all its services between Australia and Bali due to what the airline said were “new administrative requirements” from Indonesian authorities.
Indonesian authorities say Tigerair was in breach of its licence conditions, according to media reports in Indonesia.
Indonesia’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said Tigerair did not comply with its charter flight permit for flights to Bali.
The DGCA said Tigerair was only able to sell tickets for passengers originating in Australia and not Indonesia under its license. Further, the sale of one-way tickets is also prohibited under the Tigerair permit.
Indonesia’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s head of cooperation and public relations Soebagio Agoes was quoted as saying all foreign airlines operating in Indonesia must comply with the regulations in their flight permits.
The Indonesian media reports noted Tigerair’s approvals to operate flights from Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth to Bali were for the period October 30 2016 to March 25 2017, meaning the move to suspend the airline comes with a little over two months remaining on its licence.
On January 13, Tigerair was given a temporary reprieve to bring its stranded passengers in Bali back to Australia until January 16.
However, Indonesian authorities maintained their ban on Tigerair resuming flights from Australia to Bali, meaning the airline has been flying empty aircraft to Bali in order to bring passengers home.
Virgin Australia, which owns 100 per cent of Tigerair, has been called in to operate relief flights for the purposes of bringing stranded passengers back to Australia.
“I am also pleased to confirm that Virgin Australia is currently positioning an aircraft and crew in Bali. This will ensure that we can bring customers home from Tuesday onwards, if we have not already commenced normal operations by then,” Sharp said.
“Thus far, we have brought home over 3,000 passengers. We have and will continue to support Australians still in Bali with accommodation costs and we have been giving full refunds to those who have been unable to fly to Bali.
“I sincerely apologise to all our customers who have been affected by this issue, especially as it has taken place during school holidays. Our team is working around the clock to rectify it as soon as possible.”
Tigerair began flights to Bali in March 2016, taking over the Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth to Bali routes from parent Virgin.
The low-cost carrier is using three Virgin Boeing 737-800s that have been repainted in Tigerair livery to operate its first international services. The aircraft, which remain on Virgin’s air operator’s certificate (AOC) and are flown by Virgin pilots alongside Tigerair cabin crew, feature 180 seats in an all-economy configuration with five extra-legroom rows available for purchase as an optional extra.
Tigerair was currently in the midst of applying to Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for two changes to its AOC. The first was for the addition of the 737 onto its AOC as it transitions from Airbus A320s to 737-800s, with pilot training for the 737 already underway.
The second is to secure approval to operate international flights under its own AOC, rather than the current arrangement for its services to Bali.