Govt, EU Officials Meet to Discuss Europe Flight Ban

JAKARTA ~ Government officials met counterparts from the European Union on Tuesday in an effort to get the bloc to lift its blanket ban on Indonesian airlines flying in its airspace, officials said.

European officials refused to comment on the likelihood of a future lift in the ban, but said discussions over allowing Indonesian airlines to fly to the EU in return for improved airline safety standards had been positive.

“We had really, really good discussions,” Matjaz Sinkovec, the representative of current EU presidency Slovenia, said.

Indonesia last year launched a prograe 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 proposed the EU accept a “fast-track” program for four airlines, including national flag carrier Garuda, to be readmitted before other Indonesian carriers.

The head of Indonesia’s delegation, Dian Wirengjurit, said the EU representatives promised they would recommend to the European Commission that the ban be lifted for key airlines which had improved safety standards.

“The EU side is satisfied with the explanation through (Indonesia’s) presentation. The problem is the decision to take off the ban doesn’t lie with them but with the European Commission authority on aviation,” Wirengjurit said.

“There is no timeframe, only their commitment, their promise to take up this issue seriously,” he added.

Wirengjurit said the four airlines picked for the fast-track – Garuda, Mandala, Premiair and Airfast – had already improved safety practices to fall in line with EU requirements.

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