Following the AirAsia plane crash that claimed the lives of all 162 people on board, the Transportation Ministry has taken several steps to strictly enforce regulations, not only to improve safety standards implemented in the aviation industry but also to regain its long-lost rating, an official says.
Transportation Ministry spokesperson Julius Andravida Barata said Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan had set an ambitious goal of upgrading Indonesia's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rating from category 2 to 1 by the middle of this year.
"The ministry is basically trying to stick to the regulations, which hopefully will result in an improved FAA rating category," Barata said over the weekend, citing that the ministerial regulation would come into effect next month.
In 2007, the FAA downgraded Indonesia's aviation safety level to category 2, signaling that the country lacked the regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards.
Over the past few weeks, the ministry has taken several steps to improve the rating, with one recent move to rank airlines based on safety measures. Under the policy, the government will set out several regulations regarding safety standards and rate all airlines with compliant or non-compliant status on a quarterly basis.
Aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman questioned the method and measurements the ministry might use to implement the policy.
Gerry emphasized that the ministry should be clear and transparent when rating airlines and ensure sufficient qualified personnel were available to conduct the rating.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian National Air Carriers Association's (INACA) chairman. Arif Wibowo, lauded the policy but noted that the rating should refer to the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR) and International Air Transport Association-Operational Safety Audit (IOSA).
"We will just follow the regulation issued by the ministry. However, the ministry should have been very strict on all operators since the very beginning, because those that have obtained the AOC [Air Operator Certificate] basically have complied with all the regulations," said Ari, who is also CEO of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, in a recent interview.
During the tenure of former transportation minister Jusman Syafii Djamal, the government had begun to rank airlines based on safety standards. However, the policy was inconsistently enforced.
Apart from rating airlines based on safety measures, Jonan has also signed off on a new regulation setting a fare floor for budget carriers.
Jonan also plans to disband the Indonesia Slot Coordinator (IDSC), which is responsible for coordinating the country's airport slot availability and allocations, and hand over its tasks to the Transportation Ministry's directorate general of air transportation to be merged with flight permits, so confusion and mismanagement between flight slots and permits could be tackled.
Aviation analyst Arista Atmadjati said, however, the minister was on the right track to help improve safety in the country's aviation sector.
"A lot of business practitioners are in shock over the new policies, but they are simply made to enforce the very loose regulations from the past few years," Arista said. "This could be a right first step to begin improving our aviation sector," he said.