The Jakarta Post
The European Union has maintained a ban on all but four Indonesian airlines from entering Europe, a move caused by a lack of improvement in domestic aviation safety.
The European Commission, the regulatory arm of the EU, said in a release on Thursday it had updated its Air Safety List, including all Indonesian airlines except flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, Airfast Indonesia, Ekspres Transportasi Antarbenua (Premiair) and Indonesia AirAsia.
The EU Air Safety List is a list of airlines that are subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union.
All airlines from the Philippines, banned since 2010, have now been released from the list and may operate in European airspace.
'Today's result can serve as an example for other countries having difficulty matching their safety standards with developments in the industry,' Violeta Bulc, EU commissioner for transport, said.
The Transportation Ministry's director for air transportation, Muhammad Alwi, said the government had done the best it could to improve the aviation safety standards, saying that the ministry was still awaiting results from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which had assessed the ministry's directorate general for civil aviation in May.
'The European Union no longer bans all of our airlines and we are now trying to improve our standards, step by step. Hopefully we'll get a good assessment from the FAA, which will affect the EU's judgment of our aviation sector,' Alwi told The Jakarta Post.
The FAA downgraded Indonesia's aviation safety to Category 2 through the agency's International Aviation Safety Assessment program seven years ago. The status signaled that Indonesia lacked the regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards.
Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan has been struggling to improve the status, setting an ambitious target of seeing the country's aviation safety standard returned to Category 1 by mid-year.
In 2007, the European Commission banned all Indonesian airlines from flying into EU airspace, in response to Indonesia's poor safety record marked by a number of air accidents.
The Commission lifted the ban for Garuda, Airfast Indonesia, Mandala Airlines ' which filed for bankruptcy last year ' and Premiair in 2009. The following year, Indonesia AirAsia was also granted permission to fly into Europe.
Among the airlines that are still on the blacklist are the country's largest low-cost carrier Lion Air, private carrier Sriwijaya Air and light aircraft operator Susi Air.
Lion Air's operational director Capt. Daniel Putut Kuncoro Adi said the carrier was still waiting for the Transportation Ministry's director general for air transportation to lift a sanction preventing the airline from applying for new routes.
But he also said opening a flight to Europe was currently not on the horizon.
Sriwijaya Air's senior corporate communications manager Agus Soedjono said that his airline also had no plans to open a new route to Europe in the near future.
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