Over Safety, Adam Air Has Wings Clipped

adam air

TUBAN, Bali ~ Self-styled boutique airline Adam Air was grounded by the central government this week over lingering safety issues, a little over a year since one of its planes disappeared off Sulawesi with 102 people on board.

The authorities’ move comes as the government attempts to revamp, with the help of the United States and Australia, Indonesia’s tarnished aviation sector, which has seen a slew of deadly accidents and near misses since January last year.

Jakarta-based Adam Air, however, has hit the headlines more than most in the past 12 months, with one of its craft crumpling on landing in Surabaya and, last week, another skidding off the runway upon landing in Batam, near Singapore.

“The Transport Ministry has decided to revoke Adam Air’s operational specification, effective 12:00am on Wednesday,” national air chief Budhi Muliawan Suyitno told reporters on Tuesday.

“With this, Adam Air is banned from operating its aircraft. All of its planes must be automatically grounded,” he said.

The airline had failed a quarterly safety assessment, with officials finding “violations that could put passengers’ safety at risk,” said Suyitno.

Adam Air would be given three months to upgrade its safety standards and failure to comply would see a permanent revocation of its flying license, he said.

Before the announcement, the low-cost carrier – one of more than a dozen that have sprung up in Indonesia since the airline industry was deregulated a decade ago, many with small and aging fleets – was already in trouble.

Following the latest incident, in Batam, investors in the company pulled out a 50-percent holding, forcing Adam Air management earlier this week to drastically reduce the number of flights.

State oil firm Pertamina then stopped supplying aviation fuel to Adam Air planes, further compounding the already crisis-hit firm.

Adam Air also reportedly has failed to fully insure its fleet of aircraft.

President Adam Aditya Suherman said the withdrawal of the company’s license was not a surprise, and given the lack of capital – and fuel – it had intended to halt operations on Tuesday anyway.

“I’m not surprised with the (Transport Ministry’s) decision. We are having an internal problem that could affect our employees’ morale and performance and would have a bad impact on our safety efforts,” Suherman said.

“We actually had planned to stop operations starting from today (Tuesday). Apart from safety reasons, Pertamina had also stopped supplying fuel to us,” he said.

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