Indonesia's Ministry of Transportation has asserted that international flights to and from the country will continue to operate normally, despite a previous statement that all passenger flights to overseas destinations had been suspended to prevent people from participating in the annual Idul Fitri ‘mudik’ (exodus).

The ministry’s air transportation director-general Novie Riyanto said the ban on air travel would not apply to flights serving international routes.

“Flights going to other countries will operate normally, as long as those countries still accept international visitors,” Novie said on Saturday, adding that Covid-19 health and safety protocols would be applied during flights.

He said the transportation ministerial regulation also did not restrict Indonesian nationals currently abroad from entering the country.

The ban also does not apply to flights carrying leaders of state institutions or foreign envoys, nor does it apply to aircraft engaging in special repatriation operations for Indonesians or foreign nationals. Air cargo transportation will also be permitted.

The ministry previously stated on Thursday that the passenger travel suspension would also apply to all passenger transportation to domestic and overseas destinations, both commercial and chartered flights.

Novie went on to say that the immigration office had its regulation on foreigners entering the country during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Indonesia has denied entry to 239 foreigners as of Tuesday due to, among other reasons, recent travel history to areas affected by Covid-19 in the past 14 days, having a temperature of above 38C, not having a health certificate and refusing to be examined by airport health authorities.

State-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II, which operates 16 international airports across the archipelago, echoed the ministry, saying some of its airports were still serving international flights.

“Soekarno-Hatta International Airport [in Tangerang, Banten] still serves an average of 40 scheduled international commercial flights per day this month,” corporate communications vice-president Yado Yarismano said in a statement on Friday.

He added that Kualanamu Airport in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra was also still serving international flights.

The ministry has restricted all types of public and private passenger travel by air, sea, land and railway since Friday to May 31 as the government attempts to prevent people from participating in the Idul Fitri exodus to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The ban, however, does not apply to cargo transportation or vehicles serving special purposes, such as ambulances and fire trucks.