Thursday, July 16, 2009

How Indonesia got its airlines in order

A major safety overhaul in Indonesia's air industry led to this week's European Union decision to lift a ban on four of the country's airlines.

Since June 2007, they have been banned from flying into EU airspace because of safety concerns after accidents in which more than 120 people died.

The EU says significant improvements in the past two years at Garuda Indonesia, Airfast Indonesia, Mandala Airlines and PremiAir prompted the delisting.

Frans Wenas, senior investigator with Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee, told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program there had been deficiencies at all levels of the industry.

In July 2007, Indonesia signed an agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to address the safety issues.

The plan included increased monitoring of airports and operators and millions of dollars in training provided by the Australian government - still continuing.

In November last year, the president of ICAO told a meeting in Jakarta he had seen progress in Indonesia, beginning with aviation legislation that provided a regulatory and legal transformation for the industry.

Finally, this week, the European Union lifted its ban on the four carriers it said were now complying with international standards.

Garuda is intending to capitalise on developments - hoping to fly to Amsterdam by the middle of next year and planning other European routes.

Earlier news: