Indonesia says expects EU to lift ban on 4 airlines

Other News Materials 5 July 2009 15:18 (UTC +04:00)

An Indonesian transport ministry official said on Sunday the European Union was expected to lift its ban on four Indonesian airlines soon, but the ban would stay in place for several of the country's other airlines, Reuters reported.

Indonesia has suffered from a series of deadly air disasters over the years, affecting both commercial and military aircraft. In 2007, the European Union banned all Indonesian airlines from its airspace because of safety issues.

While none of Indonesia's airlines flew to Europe at the time, national carrier Garuda Indonesia had said it wanted to start flights to Amsterdam. The ban also deterred some European tourists who visited Indonesia from travelling within the country because of safety concerns.

Herry Bakti, director general of air transport, said an air safety commission meeting with 27 European countries last week agreed to give a positive recommendation to their commissioners to lift the ban on several Indonesian airlines.

"The air safety commission was satisfied by improvements made by Indonesia," Bakti said.

"Logically if it has been discussed by the technical team of 27 countries, and they made a (positive) recommendation, the political decision will not change it," he added, saying that the decision should be official in about two weeks' time. The ban will be lifted for four Indonesian airlines -- Garuda Indonesia, the national carrier, Mandala Air, Airfast, and Premiair -- Bakti said.

In January 2007, an Adam Air plane crashed off the coast of west Sulawesi, killing 102 people on board. A few months later a Garuda airplane crashed as it landed at Yogyakarta's airport, killing 23.

The military has also experienced several accidents. In May this year, a Hercules military transport plane crashed in east Java, killing more than 100 people.

The EU had pushed for improvements in Indonesia's air safety standards.

"It is a long journey to improve our civil aviation safety, and to improve our human resources that we know is still very limited," Bakti said.