The European Union has officially banned all Indonesia registered aircraft from landing at airports of their 27-member countries.
While no Indonesian air carrier currently operates a schedule to Europe rendering the injunction to some degree moot, the prohibition, set to take effect from July 6, 2007, may also make mandate that European travel agencies and tour operators stop selling or at least issue formal warnings to Indonesian-bound travelers on holiday packages including flights operated by Indonesian airlines.
Based on recommendations of the European Union Air Safety Committee, the prohibition represents a wholesale condemnation of Indonesian civil aviation for failing to meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards. The European Community sanction follows an April 2007 U.S. warning issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advising its nationals to arrive at Indonesian gateways on foreign air carriers and avoid all Indonesian domestic flights within Indonesia. [See: U.S. Gov't Questions Safety of Indonesian Domestic Air Space].
The U.S. warning followed by days a highly critical internal review of Indonesia's commercial fleet carried out by the Transport Ministry in which no national airline qualified for the top safety rating. That review was prompted by a series of high profile air mishaps resulting in deaths and injuries.
A 3-month follow-up audit released in June by the Transportation Ministry saw Garuda Indonesia move up to the highest safety rating and four other airlines move out of the lowest cautionary category to a middle ranking mandating corrections in procedural and safety reporting protocols. The latest internal Indonesian aviation audit also resulted in the revocation of the operating licenses of four small air operators and the suspension of five other airlines that now have a 3 month grace period to improve safety or face closure.
EU Ban Unfair
Indonesian aviation officials has branded as "premature" the EU prohibition, calling on Europe to rethink its latest ruling. Citing substantial improvements in civil aviation safety standards over the past three months and demonstrated improvements in every area.
An official at the Ministry of Transportation, Budhi Mulyawan Suyitno, blamed the EU ban on a failure to submit safety documentation to the EU before an official deadline. EU officials responded accusing the Indonesian officials of ignoring warnings that a ban was imminent and then showing up in Brussels ill-prepared to argue their case.
The latest blow to Indonesian aviation come only one week after Garuda Indonesia declared its intent to resume service from to Amsterdam sometime in 2008. [See: Garuda Eyeing a Return to Europe].
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