Garuda Indonesia down US$4,000 to fix kite-related airplane damages

Kite strings sucked into the aircraft engine. Photo: Soekarno-Hatta International Airport authorities
Kite strings sucked into the aircraft engine. Photo: Soekarno-Hatta International Airport authorities

The kite season in Indonesia has produced some pretty pricey repair bills for flag carrier Garuda Indonesia.

Garuda Indonesia’s senior manager for incident management Bernard Partogi Sitorus said in an online seminar yesterday that the airline has spent thousands of dollars to fix aircrafts damaged by kites flown around Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Cengkareng, Banten.

“The cost that we had to bear including inspections and repairs was approximately US$4,000 (around IDR59.2 million),” Bernard said yesterday.

“But if we compare with the potential risks, maybe this US$4,000 figure will look small.”

Kites have caused seven flight disruptions for Garuda Indonesia between May and July, according to airport management firm Angkasa Pura II, during which time there were 59 kite-related incidents experienced by all airlines at the airport. Among those incidents include a kite getting sucked into a Garuda plane engine, with officials finding strings and bamboo stickers tangled in the propeller.

Bernard said that seven kite-related incidents for Garuda represents a relatively large number, seeing as how air traffic is not as busy during the pandemic.

Flying kites or doing any activities in flight operation areas that could potentially endanger aviation safety is prohibited under Indonesia’s Aviation Law. Violation of the law is punishable by up to three years in prison or an IDR1 billion (US$67,493) fine.

Kite season in Indonesia usually takes flight in the windy dry season between June and October. This year, with people generally staying home, many have taken up kite flying as a cheap hobby to entertain themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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