The grounding of Tigerair’s operations to Bali has been extended for the next seven days as a war of words erupts between the airline and Indonesian aviation authorities.
However, the airline is able to bring passengers back to Australia from the holiday island for the next four days.
Tigerair chief executive Rob Sharp accused the Indonesians of not honouring a 12-month agreement struck in March last year.
That agreement allowed Tigerair to lease planes and crew from its parent Virgin Australia (wet- lease) and operate to Bali from Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne.
The only caveat was it was not able to sell tickets in Bali to those Australian destinations.
However, according to sources in Jakarta, the Indonesians have moved the oversight of the agreement from the department that looks after normal regular passenger flights to the charter area.
Thus the Indonesians have changed the rules by which the airline operates to Bali and thus it is technically in breach.
However, almost all airlines lease planes from leasing companies, banks and other airlines often with crew – particularly pilots.
Yesterday Mr Sharp said, “Tigerair Australia currently has approval from The Director General Air Communication and Director Air Transport to operate between Australia and Bali until 25 March 2017.”
“This involves selling tickets in Australia between Australia and Bali. Under the existing agreement, we are not able to sell tickets in Indonesia and we are fully compliant with this.”
Mr Sharp added, “we are not proposing any changes to the agreement – we are operating under the same approval we have been for the last 8 months.”
The airline said it is striving to work through the new requirements but may have to use a different arrangement with its own shorter ranged A320s but this will take two weeks to put in place.
Tigerair said it is doing everything it can to support its passengers, including transferring them to Virgin Australia flights, providing accommodation and refunds.
“We understand this is a busy period during school holidays and we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this has caused,” said Mr Sharp.
All other Tigerair flights (all domestic services) remain unaffected by this decision