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January 18, 2009

EU yet to lift ban on Indonesian airlines

The European Union has recognized significant progress in Indonesia’s air safety, but the flight ban remains in place for now, reported The Jakarta Post.

After meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Friday, Ambassador and Head of delegation for the EU and EC to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam Julian Wilson said the EU was particularly impressed with the passing of the new aviation law that would boost air safety.

“This is a significant development for the improvement of air safety in Indonesia and for addressing the concerns of the ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization] whose negative findings caused the EU air restriction on Indonesia to be put in place,” Wilson said in a statement.

However, he would not guarantee an immediate lifting of the EU ban on Indonesian airliners from European airspace, implemented in 2007.

The ban came into effect after a string of aviation accidents in Indonesia, the deadliest being the crash of an Adam Air jet in early 2007 that killed all 102 people on board.

Wilson said more work was needed for the law to be effective.

“The [Indonesian] Directorate General of Air Transportation recognizes there is significant work still to do. For example, there are the implementing regulations to draft and pass so the new law can be implemented on the ground,” he said.

“It is up to the directorate general to decide when it is ready to submit its case to the European Air Safety Committee that can review the air restriction on Indonesia.”

He added the EU wanted to see a lifting of the ban as soon as possible, by working closely with the directorate general to help address the ICAO findings and help it prepare to present its case to the air safety committee.

The directorate general of air transportation is under the auspices of the Transportation Ministry.

Wilson’s statement revises an earlier claim by presidential spokesman Dino Patti Jalal who said the EU was mulling a lifting of the ban between March and June this year.

“Mr. Julian Wilson said the EC is optimistic it can lift the flight ban by the end of the first half of the year.

“This could happen in March or June, depending on talks on technicalities between the two parties,” said Dino, adding Wilson had insisted the flight ban was considered merely a technical affair rather than a political one.

Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal said the EU no longer had any reason to extend the flight ban.

“Indonesia will attend a [European Commission] meeting in March in Brussels,” he said.

“The meeting, which is held every three months, will discuss the possibility of the flight ban being lifted.”

But if the meeting failed to do so, Jusman went on, the ban would be extended for another three months.

The EC is the EU’s executive branch, responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU’s treaties and the general day-to-day running of the EU.

Recommendations from two EU countries are sufficient to impose a flight ban, but approval from all 27 member states is needed to lift a ban.

Jusman previously said the EU no longer had reasons for the ban except on a discriminatory basis.

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