Indonesia urges EU to lift ban on its airliners

December 18th, 2008 - 3:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Jakarta, Dec 18 (DPA) Indonesia has called on the European Union (EU) to lift its ban on the country’s carriers from the 27-nation bloc’s airspace after Jakarta passed a new aviation law, media reports said Thursday.”There is no further argument for the EU not to lift the ban,” Transport Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal was quoted as saying by the Indonesian daily Koran Tempo.

On Wednesday, the Indonesian parliament passed a bill to improve the country’s air safety in response to demands by the EU after Indonesia saw a string of deadly air crashes.

The EU imposed a ban on all Indonesian airliners in mid-2007 after the crash landing of a Garuda Airline plane in Yogyakarta in Central Java in March 2007, which killed 21 people, and the deaths of 102 people aboard an Adam Air jet that plunged into the sea off central Indonesia on New Year’s Eve.

The ban also requires tourist agencies in the EU to warn customers that Indonesian airlines are unsafe if they sell package tours that use domestic carriers.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has singled out 121 problems in Indonesia’s aviation safety system, including the lack of aircraft surveillance and inability of inspectors to have a plane grounded.

Djamal said the new aviation law addresses at least 18 of the recommendations by the UN’s Montreal-based aviation-safety agency.

“If the ICAO approves our standards, the EU will have no reason to ban us, except on a discrimination basis,” Djamal argued.

Budhi Muliawan Suyitno, director general of aviation in the transport ministry, said the government would invite EU representatives to Jakarta in January to show them Indonesia has made safety improvements.

Suyitno expressed hope that the ban would be lifted when the European Commission holds a meeting in March.

Air travel in Indonesia has blossomed since the sector was deregulated in 1999, but the rapid growth has raised questions about whether safety has been compromised.

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