If you could not get a seat on a plane, what would you do?
After begging Merpati Nusantara airlines for five hours to sell him a seat on a sold out flight from Kupang (Timor Island) to Ngada (Flores) on Saturday 21 December, an Indonesian district chief, Marianus Sae, got revenge.
Mr Sae sent public order officers to drive cars onto the runway of Turolelo Soa airport to stop the plane landing at its destination. He said “blocking Merpati from landing at the airport would teach the airline a firm lesson.”
Airport officials could not stop the blockade because they were outnumbered by the Satpol officials enforcing the district head’s wishes. The airport remained shut for several hours, officials said. Merpati spokesman Riswanto Chendra Putra confirmed the plane was forced to turn back due to the blockade.
Transport ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said the district chief had “tarnished the reputation of the aviation industry“. He said the ministry had no plans to take legal action at this stage.