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Irate passengers take Batavia crew hostage SURABAYA - At least 31 angry passengers held several crew members of a Batavia Air airplane hostage here after their flight to Jakarta was delayed for around nine hours at Juanda Airport until Friday morning. Rudy Herlambang, one of the protesters, said the passengers had to take action because Batavia broke its promise and tried to deliberately cancel the flight as fewer than half of the plane's 100 seats were filled.
"We were forced to do that because Batavia Air sought reasons to delay the plane's departure," he told The Jakarta Post. Batavia staffers at the airport said the delay was due to a technical problem with the plane's wheels. The flight was scheduled to leave Surabaya at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday night, but until 11 p.m. it remained uncertain when the plane was to depart. This made the ill-fated passengers more frustrated and they demanded a direct meeting with Batavia's Surabaya manager Dedy Rudianto.
The passengers later held three female flight attendants and two security guards hostage by preventing them from leaving the waiting room along with them. "We seized a cellular phone and a wristwatch from one of the security guards as collateral, while we told him to find Dedy," Rudy said. Hours later, Dedy appeared to meet the passengers who then angrily voiced their grievances. Rudy said several of the passengers tried to beat Dedy and damage Batavia's facilities, but eventually refrained from venting their anger as the manager assured them that a plane was to arrive soon.
Dedy also offered the passengers an overnight stay at a hotel before their departure on Friday morning. But the offer failed to console them. "You think we could not afford to pay to stay in a hotel? The point is that we want to leave for Jakarta now," yelled another passenger as quoted by Rudy. Amid the heated debate, the passengers wrote a letter complaining about the poor service they received from Batavia Air.
"Through the letter we will sue Batavia Air for Rp 500 million (US$58,823) in compensation over the delay," Rudy said. It was not immediately clear if they were serious about taking legal action against the airline. Eventually, the stranded passengers left on Friday morning aboard a Batavia Air plane that had just arrived from Pontianak, West Kalimantan. "The plane scheduled to depart at 8:30 p.m on Thursday eventually left at 5:30 a.m. on Friday," Batavia's check-in counter officer Anita said.
She denied the incident was a hostage-taking drama at the waiting room, saying it was merely a case of "misunderstanding". Dedy could not be reached for comment.



Posted in Oddly enough ... @ 19 December 2003 00:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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