The Sriwijaya Air flight, headed to Jakarta from Bengkulu province in Sumatra, was carrying more than two tons of durian.
Passengers refused to board the plane and complained to staff about the fruit’s strong smell. They also expressed concern over its extra weight on the plane, AFP reported.
The spiky fruit’s flavor and creamy texture has made it popular throughout Southeast Asia, but its strong odor has gained it many detractors. Singapore has banned the fruit in its subway system, and many hotels ban durians because of the notorious smell — which some critics have likened to rotten food or dirty socks.
The airline said the fruit would not endanger the flight and the smell would go once the plane was in the air.
“Durian is not classified as a hazardous material to be transported on a plane,” Sriwijaya Air official Abdul Rahim told national television station Kompas TV late Tuesday, AFP reports.
He added that they placed coffee powder and pandan leaves — sweet-smelling leaves that are widely used to flavor desserts in Southeast Asia — on the plane “to absorb the durian smell.”
The standoff ended when boarded passengers began to get off the flight. The airline eventually unloaded the fruit and the flight took off an hour later.
Airport staff told AFP that they would look into procedures around the transport of durian to avoid future incidents.