Around 300 pilots of Lion Air went on strike on Tuesday (10/05) - leaving thousands of passengers stranded for hours across eight Indonesian airports (the strike affected 58 Lion Air flights) - over the delayed payment of pilots' travel expenses (these expenses should have been paid between 4 and 9 May 2016). Although the strike ended around 11 am local Jakarta time as the Lion Air management announced it had transferred pilots' accommodation allowance, the action still caused the delay of flights until the afternoon. It is interesting that in local media the management of Lion Air denies that there was a strike. Edward Sirait, Director of Lion Air, was quoted "delays occurred because some Lion Air crew members were sick, while others were having administrative problems."

Those airports affected - where air passengers had to wait several hours - include I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport (Bali), Adisutjipto Airport (Yogyakarta), Sam Ratulangi Airport (Manado), Sultan Hasanuddin Airport (Makassar), and Lombok International Airport.

The strike caused outrage among air passengers, state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura as well as consumer organizations, and put significant pressure on the management of Lion Air. Tulus Abadi, Chairman of the Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation (YLKI), advised the Indonesian Transportation Ministry to issue a warning or impose a penalty on Lion Air (for example temporarily disallowing Lion Air to add new routes and flights until the airlines' services have improved).

It is not the first time Lion Air causes negative headlines in media. In 2015 more than 2,000 Lion Air passengers were left stranded between 18 and 20 February at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport due to flight delays. Thousands more were stranded at other airports. This incident went largely unexplained by the management of Lion Air.

In 2015 there were 68.8 million air passengers in Indonesia. Most of these passngers use low-cost airlines such as Lion Air, Indonesia AirAsia, Citilink Indonesia, and Sriwijaya Air. Lion Air is Indonesia's leading low-cost airline with 113 aircraft in operation. The airline operates 126 destinations (including 100 domestic destinations).

In Indonesia flight delays are rampant. However, some airlines are much more reliable in terms of departure punctuality compared to others. See the table below (a figure of 100 percent means all flights departed on time):

Departure Punctuality of Indonesian Airlines:

Airline  2014  2015
Batik Air 90.78% 92.12%
NAM Air 92.92% 91.80%
Garuda Indonesia 88.52% 87.62%
Sriwijaya Air 83.02% 84.79%
Indonesia AirAsia Extra - 82.40%
Citilink Indonesia 78.20% 81.78%
Indonesia AirAsia 78.67% 81.11%
Kalstar Aviation 65.30% 75.63%
Transnusa 54.41% 74.82%
Wings Air 71.12% 72.05%
Lion Air 73.80% 71.45%
Susi Air - 60.97%
Travel Express 86.30% 57.40%
Trigana Air 62.91% 56.12%

Source: Bisnis Indonesia