EU’s Indonesia Airline Ban ‘Unfair’: Govt

JAKARTA ~ The government criticized this week the European Union’s failure to remove any of its airlines from a flight blacklist as “unfair,” saying much had been done to improve standards.

Last year the central government launched a program to improve air safety standards after the EU in June banned the country’s 51 airlines from flying in its airspace following a string of fatal accidents.

The government has lobbied EU authorities to lift the ban on flag carrier Garuda Indonesia. But last Friday, the EU said that while Garuda had made some progress, it was not sufficient to warrant lifting the ban.

“This (the ban) seems like an unfair punishment for Indonesia,” said Transport Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan.

“The EU is not a sovereign country and is not a member of the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation). But we do respect the EU and its decision, and demand the same from the EU,” Ervan said.

Carriers in Indonesia have suffered a recent slew of deadly accidents.

An Adam Air plane crashed into the sea off Indonesia’s Sulawesi island in January 2007, killing everyone on board. The airline has since been banned from flying on safety grounds, and authorities last month blamed the accident on pilot error.

Two months later, a Garuda jet burst into flames on landing in Central Java, killing 21 people.

The EU said Indonesian authorities “have still to demonstrate that they have completed the corrective actions” required for the ban to be lifted.

Indonesia has launched a so-called “fast-track program” to help four airlines – Garuda, Mandala Airlines, Premiair and Airfast – to bring their safety standards up to EU levels.

Garuda recently ordered 10 new aircraft, saying it was hoping to begin flying to Europe and the United States.

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