The Jakarta Post
Indonesian airline safety is under the spotlight again after airlineratings.com, an independent plane safety and product rating website, named eight of the country's airlines as the least safe in the world.
The rating, however, was met with skepticism from local carriers, which questioned the survey's parameters and the 407 major airlines it monitored.
'INACA [the Indonesian National Air Carriers Association] seriously questions the criteria of the rating that was done by foreign media on aspects of national airline safety, considering there should be clear methodology that is measurable and accountable,' the association stated on Wednesday following the release of the survey.
Along with airlines from Nepal and Suriname, eight local airlines were considered the least safe, namely the biggest budget carrier Lion Air along with its full-service Batik Air and Wings Air; Citilink, the low-cost arm of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia; Kalstar Aviation; Sriwijaya Air; TransNusa; and Trigana Air Service.
The airlines received zero or one star out of a maximum seven stars based on audits from aviation governing bodies such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) as well as whether the airlines had been certified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The survey also took into account whether airlines were on the EU's blacklist, government audits and fatality records. The safest airline was Australia's Qantas, with 148 of the airlines monitored getting the maximum seven-star safety ranking.
'We don't really mind being graded, as long as it is done objectively, transparently and in an accountable way,' Citilink president director and CEO Albert Burhan said, while comparing the results to a review of airlines and airports by UK-based consultancy Skytrax.
Similarly, Lion Air public relations manager Andy M. Saladin questioned the rating method.
Nonetheless, the ratings have served as a wake-up call for the airline industry. Indonesia's airline safety has been in the spotlight of late, particularly in 2015 when 14 airline-related incidents occurred with 208 fatalities, an increase from four accidents with 162 fatalities in the previous year, according to data compiled by airline consultant firm CSE Aviation. That included a Trigana Air accident in Oksibil, Papua, killing 54 passengers and crew.
Former Indonesian Air Force chief of staff and aviation observer Chappy Hakim said airline safety issues arose from the country's national aviation authority, which remained unable to comply with required safety regulations.
ICAO audits on Indonesian aviation in 2007, which spotted 121 loopholes in the country's air safety oversight system, partly led to the FAA and European Commission (EC) imposing flight bans on all Indonesian airlines, although some carriers have since been removed from the blacklist.
Indonesia's aviation safety was then downgraded to Category 2, signaling a lack of regulation necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards.
Aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman voiced similar concerns, stating that it was the problem of the whole industry, including the regulator.
Facts about local airlines and air travel
* 62 million air passengers travel to domestic destinations using national, international carriers from Jan. to Nov. 2015
* 12.4 million air passengers travel overseas using national, international carriers from Jan. to Nov. 2015
* INACA has 30 members consisting of 13 airlines offering scheduled flights and 17 airlines offering unscheduled flights.
Airlineratings.com's Top 20 safest airlines:*
American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Finnair, Hawaiian Airlines, Japan Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, Qantas, Scandinavian Airline System, Singapore Airlines, Swiss, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.
Bottom 10 least safe airlines:*
Batik Air, Bluewing Airlines, Citilink, Kal-Star Aviation, Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air, TransNusa, Trigana Air Service, Wings Air and Xpress Air.
* in alphabetical order
Source: airlineratings.com, various sources compiled by The Jakarta Post