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An airline shut down because everyone was ignoring coronavirus rules

Published Jun 7th, 2020 9:02AM EDT
Coronavirus impact

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  • The coronavirus’ impact on the global economy continues to be felt far and wide, touching almost every imaginable business sector, including airlines and the hospitality industry.
  • Regarding airlines, Indonesia-based carrier Lion Air recently restarted operations after having temporarily closed because of the pandemic.
  • Unfortunately, Lion Air has now closed down again due to passengers being unwilling or unable to comply with its coronavirus rules.

In a statement posted to its website this week, the low-cost, Indonesia-based airline Lion Air shared some news that no company ever wants to be in a position to announce. For the time being, the airline will be suspending all service, including domestic and international flights, from Friday, June 5.

The reason why is pretty clear-cut, as you might be able to surmise: It has to do with the coronavirus’ impact on the economy. More specifically, passengers are just not sufficiently following the airline’s rules inspired by the virus that’s sparked a global pandemic — a pandemic, we should add, that’s killed almost 400,000 people around the world, to-date. The airline’s rationale for this decision, laid out in a memo also available via its Facebook page, explains that: “Lion Air Group’s decision was based on considerations from an evaluation of previous flight operations, that many prospective passengers were unable to carry out air travel because they did not complete the required documents and conditions during the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic alert period.”

To be sure, airlines are far from the only business sector that’s been hammered hard by the coronavirus pandemic. But airlines have arguably a tougher job than most when it comes to assuaging people’s fears and promoting safety, considering the common perception that it’s unsafe to be trapped in the equivalent of a cramped metal tube with other passengers right now for an extended period of time.

As far as Lion Air, its decision to suspend operations comes less than a week after it restarted flying again, after previously hitting pause on its operation because of the coronavirus. The airline’s statement suggests this decision was reached after encountering too many passengers either unwilling or unable to follow its rules meant to control the spread of the virus, with the latest data from Johns Hopkins University showing that some 1,770 people in the airline’s home country of Indonesia have died thus far from COVID-19.

In terms of how other airlines are addressing this same problem, especially American-based carriers, companies have instituted new rules like mandating that passengers wear face masks during flights, and travelers may have to put on a mask before boarding the plane, as well. Disinfectant or wipes may also be provided onboard, and airlines have stepped up cleaning efforts between flights, especially when it comes to high-touch surfaces and areas like bathrooms, tray tables, and seats.

Lion Air’s action, of feeling like the only way it can keep everyone safe is to just close up shop, is certainly an extreme response by a company to the pandemic. A spokesperson for the airline, the largest in Indonesia, told the Jakarta Globe that “many passengers had to cancel their trip because they could not show the required documents.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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