Back in 2007 most Indonesian airlines were banned from flying into the European Union (EU)'s airspace; a decision that was made out of safety concerns. On Thursday (15/06), however, the European Commission announced that it had removed all Indonesian airlines from its EU Air Safety list following further improvements in Indonesia's safety standards.
The EU Air Safety list is a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban within the EU's airspace. The list is part of the EU's strategy to ensure the highest level of safety for the bloc's air passengers. Meanwhile, the EU now also deploys a new system aimed at preventing unsafe aircraft from entering EU airspace.
Earlier, there had been plenty of criticism on Indonesia's aviation industry, particularly related to safety standards. Canada-based International Air Transport Association (IATA) repeatedly expressed its concern as at least one air crash had occurred in Indonesia, each year, since 2010. Therefore, it advised the country to upgrade its air traffic management system, particularly at a time when Indonesia is coping with a rising number of aircraft in the sky.
Considering the country's air travel market is expected to triple over the next 20 years to 270 million passengers, a mushrooming of (mostly smaller) airlines had occurred. However, this gave rise to fierce competition in Indonesia's air travel industry. Heightened competition put pressure on prices, hence air carriers' income came under pressure accordingly. When an airline comes under financial pressure, it is always feared that it will try to save money by cutting spending on maintenance and safety.
IATA also advised the Indonesian government to take more effort in updating regulations and infrastructure in order to keep pace with expansion of Indonesia's air traffic. Under the Joko Widodo administration there has indeed been a new focus on infrastructure development, including airports.
In 2016 the US aviation regulator (Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA) had already allowed Indonesian airlines to enter US airspace. The FAA upgraded the safety status of Indonesia's aviation industry by one notch to category 1 which allowed Indonesian air carriers to serve flight routes to the USA as well as to engage in code shares with US airlines.
In 2007 the FAA had downgraded Indonesia's safety rating to category 2 as there had occurred a series of fatal air-crashes and incidents in Indonesia in the preceding years, while the operational control systems in Indonesia's aviation industry were considered weak. Moreover, audits conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) detected 121 loopholes in the Indonesian air safety oversight system. Lastly, the quality of Indonesia's human resources - working in the aviation industry - was not considered in accordance with international standards.
The latest decision of the EU to remove all Indonesian airlines from the ban list is another piece of evidence that safety standards in Indonesia's aviation have improved. Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Transport, said she is glad that after years of work, all air carriers from Indonesia are now removed from the list. It is an example that shows how hard work and close cooperation pay off. Bulc added that she is also satisfied that the EU now has a new warning system to prevent unsafe airplanes from entering into European airspace.
After the EU ban on Indonesian air carriers was implemented in 2007, several Indonesian airlines were removed again over the next couple of years. However, most Indonesian airlines remained banned. In June 2016, the European Commission removed Citilink, Lion Air and Batik Air from the list, after they were considered to meet international standards. Earlier, in 2009 and 2010, the EU had already lifted bans on Garuda Indonesia, Airfast Indonesia, Ekspres Transportasi Antarbenua (Premiair), and Indonesia AirAsia. However, only Garuda Indonesia actually serves flights to Europe.
The aviation industry in the Asia-Pacific region is one of the world's fastest growing regions in terms of air travel. Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, contains a burgeoning middle class that is increasingly using airplanes for domestic and international transport. Being the world's largest archipelago that is home to 270 million people, air travel is the easiest option for fast travel across the country.
What a disgrace. I wouldn't fly on any Indonesian or Malaysian airlines as despite the ban being lifted, I still feel that their aviation safety standards aren't up to scratch in comparison to Europe. There have still been accidents and I do not see why the EU has lifted this ban. Absolutely disgraceful.