Indonesia may close airlines after crashes

JAKARTA Fri Mar 16, 2007 5:04am EDT

A worker carrys a passenger's baggage from the wreckage of a Garuda Indonesia Airline jet, Indonesia's state carrier, at Adisucipto airport in Yogyakarta March 10, 2007. Indonesia may close some airlines after a government-sanctioned team of transport experts called for a revamp of the aviation industry following a series of air accidents, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said on Friday.REUTERS/Dwi Oblo

A worker carrys a passenger's baggage from the wreckage of a Garuda Indonesia Airline jet, Indonesia's state carrier, at Adisucipto airport in Yogyakarta March 10, 2007. Indonesia may close some airlines after a government-sanctioned team of transport experts called for a revamp of the aviation industry following a series of air accidents, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said on Friday.

Credit: Reuters/Dwi Oblo

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JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia may close some airlines after a government-sanctioned team of transport experts called for a revamp of the aviation industry following a series of air accidents, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said on Friday.

Last week, a Garuda Indonesia plane with 140 people on board overshot the runway in cultural capital Yogyakarta and burst into flames, killing 21 people including five Australians.

"Whoever fails to meet regulations will face sanctions, including airlines which fail to meet aviation regulations," Kalla told reporters.

He said errant airlines would be given warnings, suspended or shut down following an audit depending on their state of affairs.

"Just wait for news from the director general of civil aviation," he said.

A team commissioned by the government after a passenger jet with 102 people on board disappeared in January has said safety standards had deteriorated since the deregulation of the aviation sector in the late 1990s.

On Thursday, it urged the government to shut down air operators that ignore safety rules in a series of recommendations to the government.

Investigators in last week's Garuda crash are questioning the pilots and the cabin crew to see if human error was involved in the accident.

Air travel in Indonesia, a country of more than 17,000 islands, has grown substantially since the liberalization of the airline industry that has triggered price wars among airlines.

The rapid growth has raised questions over whether safety has been compromised and if the infrastructure and personnel can cope with the huge increase.

The team is also due to come up with recommendations on improving safety on other transport networks including the nation's overstretched ferry system.

There have been two serious ferry disasters in recent months killing hundreds of people, while rail accidents on an aging system built during the Dutch colonial era occur frequently.

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