Tigerair has been forced to cancel all of its flights between Australia and Indonesia, effective from Wednesday 11 January. The snap decision by the Indonesian government to ban Tigerair from flying to the country has resulted in chaos as thousands of Tigerair passengers were left stranded.

Tigerair operates three international routes to Bali from Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth respectively. These routes were previously operated by Tiger’s parent company, Virgin Australia, but were taken over from Virgin in March 2016.

Since then, Tigerair has been operating to Bali under Virgin Australia’s Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). The Boeing 737 aircraft and pilots used for the flights belong to Virgin Australia. However, the flights are marketed as Tigerair flights and the cabin crew are employed by Tigerair. Tiger only operates three Boeing 737 aircraft, all of which are used exclusively on flights to Bali.

Pulling from a few sources it appears that TT Int is not using its own AOC for these flights, but rather running a charter/wet lease operation with VA Int.

The problem appears to be that the Indonesian government has only given Tigerair permission to operate “charter flights” to Indonesia. As Tigerair is selling tickets to the general public, it would appear that they have breached the conditions of their authorisation.

Effectively a charter operation cannot sell tickets to the public, in other words at tigerair.com.au. That in itself effectively renders Tigers Bali operation not possible. So unless Tiger gets its own AOC which is probably still a few months away, I can’t see flights resuming as selling tickets as a charter is very hard to make work.

The announcement came as a nasty surprise to Tigerair passengers, whose travel plans were suddenly left in chaos. To make matters worse, it appears that some travel insurance policies will not cover delays or cancellations resulting from this debacle. Thankfully, this is not the case with all travel insurance providers; so it’s worth checking the fine print of your policy if you’re affected.

I also note from other places that some pax have discovered that their travel insurance (not all apparently) has exclusions for cancetiona caused by regulatory issues (I wonder if the TT sold insurance has this?)

Tigerair has since been granted a temporary reprieve, allowing them to fly stranded passengers back to Australia between 13-17 January. However, the future beyond this looks uncertain. It is likely that Tigerair will need to apply for a new AOC if they are to continue operating commercial flights to Indonesia. In the meantime, it is unclear whether Virgin Australia will step in with additional flights on its own aircraft.

Considering Tigerair has stopped selling flights to Bali until the end of March, it seems a resolution is unlikely to be reached soon.

Tiger have taken all DPS flights off sale until the 25th March. The right thing to do by consumers.

Air Asia X last year ceased flights from Melbourne and Sydney to Denpasar. Indonesian regulatory issues were cited as one of the reasons for cancelling the flights.

Join the discussion HERE.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]