Yasir Hasan, the Gorontalo-based Lion Air manager, stated here on Tuesday that 45 tickets could have been sold until 10 a.m. local time for a 72-seater capacity Wings Air aircraft.
Commercial flights of Wings Air from Gorontalo to Palu have been operated since Monday, but they were then cancelled after the related authorities notified that the runway of Palu`s Mutiara Sis Al Jufri Airport was not usable.
"The airport`s runway was occupied by refugees, who wanted to be flown out of Palu. As a result, none of the commercial flights could land and take off," he noted, adding that the Wings Air aircraft serving the Gorontalo-Palu route is scheduled to depart at 7 a.m. local time.
Furthermore, Hasan could not as yet ascertain whether the aircraft could fly as scheduled since it was based on the condition of Mutiara Sis Al Jufri Airport.
The resumption of the Wings Air flights is perceived as good news for several Gorontalo residents, who plan to meet their relatives in Palu or to move them out of the 7.4-magnitude earthquake and tsunami-hit city.
Hartati, a local resident, said she felt relief after knowing that a flight for Palu has been operated.
"I have been contemplating for three days on whether I should go to Palu by land or sea, as there is no flight to Palu. Today, I get notified that a commercial flight for Palu has resumed. I will book a ticket," Hartati stated.
Hartati said she planned to carry a humanitarian package to be distributed to her family members taking refuge at a safer place around Palu.
Palu, the capital city of Central Sulawesi Province, suffered the worst impact of the strong earthquake and tsunami that hit certain parts of the province on Sept 28. Apart from Palu, the disaster also struck those in the districts of Gorontalo and Sigi.
The earthquake was followed by a tsunami, which had badly smashed the coasts of Palu and Donggala District. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) recorded that as of Sunday at 1 p.m. Western Indonesia Time, the catastrophe had killed 821 people in Palu and 11 others in Donggala District.
In response to the disaster, President Joko Widodo had expressed his condolences to those affected. Numerous friendly countries have also expressed sympathy and offered humanitarian assistance to Indonesia.
As of Monday, 18 countries offering humanitarian assistance to the Indonesian Government comprise Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, India, South Korea, the United States, Australia, France, Switzerland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Norway.
Reporting by Debby H. Mano
Editing by Rahmad Nasution