The Jakarta Post
The decision of the European Commission and the chair of the European Union’s Air Safety Committee last week to remove all Indonesian carriers from a decade-long EU airline blacklist is a high commendation for the capabilities of domestic aviation regulators in providing adequate safety oversight and surveillance over domestic airlines.
The ban on Indonesian airlines flying to Europe was lifted after the European Aviation Safety Agency thoroughly assessed late last month the country’s air safety standards against global safety standards, notably those promulgated by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The assessment explicitly acknowledged the competence of our civil aviation regulatory body, especially its Air Safety Certification Directorate, which is in charge of issuing pilot licenses, aircraft operation certificates for new airlines and safety approvals, a mechanism that can make or break an airline. We should magnanimously admit that deeply rooted in past issues of our air safety standards had been the integrity and technical competence of the Air Safety Certification Directorate, as shown by the investigation into the string of airplane accidents that revealed great failings in maintenance, operational, certification and administrative standards.
The impressive improvements in aviation safety standards should also be attributed to domestic airlines that have consistently put safety, not competitiveness, first and foremost in their business operations.
Certainly, the EU’s move would not immediately mean bigger business opportunities for our national carriers to enter the European market, where competition is fierce between all major international airlines.
The immediate and greatest benefit would rather be in the lower rates for insurance premiums for domestic airplanes and opportunities for carriers to join operational alliances with five-star airlines in other countries. Yet more meaningful will be the positive impact on tourism because tourists covered by European insurance companies will be allowed to use Indonesian airlines both overseas and within the country.
The international recognition of our air safety standards should be a great boon to the domestic airline industry and allow it to grow faster. Most analysts predict that the country will grow steadily to become one of the world’s 10 largest aviation markets within the next decade in terms of flights per day across the vast archipelago.
With a population of over 260 million and a rising middle class, Indonesians are becoming more eager than ever to fly. As an archipelago of 17,000 islands, 5,200 kilometers across from east to west and nearly 2,000 km from north to south, this is a country that was really made for air transportation. Aviation is big business in Indonesia today. But the potential is much bigger.
Tony Tyler, chief of the International Air Transport Association, said during an aviation day celebration in Jakarta in March 2015, that by 2034 Indonesia is expected to be the sixth-largest market for air travel. By then some 270 million passengers are expected to fly to, from and within the country. That will be more than three times the size of the 2015 market.