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December 21, 2007

Airlines asked not to purchase Airbus

Indonesia has recommended the airlines in the country should not buy Airbus plane as long as the European Union (EU)'s ban on the country's airlines from entering the group's territory is still in place, Transport Minister JusmanSyafii Djamal said in Jakarta Wednesday.

The minister said that the recommendation has been issued since two weeks ago on the 51 Indonesian airlines, including Garuda, which have been forbidden by the EU to fly at its territory since July 6 following the several air accidents in the country that killed hundreds of people.

"As long as the ban is still in place, it is better we do not buy (planes) from Europe," Djamal told a joint press conference after meeting with Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla here.

The minister offered an option for the European Union to end their restriction.

The easiest way is to lift the ban, because the ban goes against the principle of open sky policy," he said.

The European Commission extended its ban on Indonesian airlines at its meeting on Nov. 28 in Brussels, but the group ended its ban on Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and on Blue Wing Airlines of Surinam.

The minister elaborate that the ban has resulted in the fact that Indonesia's airlines could not make certification and registration process in Europe if they buy a plane from the area. "We are afraid that after the harmonization and then the plane was registered to become Indonesian plane, it could not return to Indonesia because it has violated EU ban, because it entered the EU territory," he said.

For each new plane bought from Europe, it must undergo harmonization process on the Indonesia's aviation rules and registration to become Indonesian plane in Europe, said Djamal.

Beside, the minister said that another solution was to carried out all the process in Indonesia after the Airbus factory sends the plane to Indonesia.

However, he said, Airbus charged an expensive additional fee for the process. "There is an additional cost that must be paid by Indonesian airlines that buy the plane from Europe, 200,000 U.S. dollars," he said. "Because of that we recommend not buying planes from Europe. As long as the EU ban is still in place, there will be additional payment," said Djamal.

However, the minister said that should any European company like to compensate customers for the cost, the local carrier may buy the plane.

He also said that Indonesia has also decided not to send its officers to Europe for the process.

Indonesia has suffered from several air accidents in recent years that claimed hundreds of lives.

On New Year's Eve, a local carrier Adam Air with more than 100 people on board lost contact and disappeared in the waters of central Indonesia, and in March a Garuda Indonesia plane-200 with 140 people on board overshot the runway in Yogyakarta province and burst into flames, killing 21 people.

Courtesy Xinhua

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