Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan should be held responsible an alleged illegal flight schedule involving budget airline AirAsia, according to Bambang Haryo, a member of House of Representatives Commission VI overseeing consumer protection.
"The transportation minister should be held equally responsible for the case. A flight-worthiness status, especially for international flights, is based on permission and approval given directly by the transportation minister," said Bambang as quoted by Antara news agency in Jakarta on Tuesday.
He insisted the airline company should not be blamed for the case relating to AirAsia flight QZ8501, which crashed into the waters of the Karimata Strait while en route from Surabaya to Singapore on Dec 28.
The lawmaker said the transportation minister had played an active role in approving the airline's flight-route permit request in accordance with Article 122 (2) of Law No.1/2009 on Flights. The law stipulates that both the network and route for international flights are determined by the minister based on transportation agreements between countries.
"The 2009 flight law explains the matter clearly. It is the Transportation Ministry that needs to be investigated and examined," said Bambang.
He said the ministry's decision to temporarily suspend AirAsia's Surabaya-Singapore route was not a proper solution, and violated Law No.8/1999 on Consumer Protection, as it would disrupt people's access to transportation.
The Transportation Ministry has temporarily suspended AirAsia's flight permit for the Surabaya-Singapore route as of Jan 2. It imposed the sanction over violations allegedly committed by the airline.
AirAsia was said to have violated operational procedures by flying on a Sunday when their license only allowed them to fly on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
In October, the airline revised its route schedule to fly on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, without the required permission from the ministry.