Bali Police have detained five Indonesians who were deported from Turkey for allegedly trying to join the extremist Islamic State movement in Syria. (Antara Photo/Andika Wahyu)

Airline Body Confident Indonesia Will Benefit From Asean Policy, Experts not so Convinced

BY :TABITA DIELA & THRESA SANDRA DESFIKA

JANUARY 09, 2016

Jakarta. The Indonesian National Air Carrier Association, also known as Inaca, is confident the Asean Open Skies policy will benefit local air carriers, boosting numbers of passengers by up to 15 percent next year.

Under the police, which came in to effect Jan. 1, Asean airlines can make a stop in third country during flights from its home country to destination. The airlines can also sell tickets in those countries without cooperating with local airlines.

Previously, the airlines could only offer direct flights between two countries.

In theory, Southeast Asian skies — spanning Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam — will become a single aviation market with increased ease of movement in the region for people and goods, in turn improving regional economic growth.

"We believe that local air carriers, both passenger and freight air carriers, scheduled and chartered, can benefit from it. It is a good prospect for 2016," Arief Wibowo, Inaca chairman and flag-carrier Garuda Indonesia president director, said on Friday.

"This should be a momentum for Indonesia to gain bigger access in the Asean territory. All air carriers in the country have strengthened its network. We can expand to all airports in the region," he said.

Five airports in Indonesia — Jakarta's Soekarno Hatta, Ngurah Rai in Bali, Surabaya's Juanda, Hasanudin in Makasar and Kualanamu in Medan — will open in accordance with the police, the Transport Ministry has said.

“The domestic flight routes remain the domain of national airlines. So, we can benefit by distributing the traffic from those airports," Arief said.

He expects passenger growth will reach 10 to 15 percent this year, up from Inaca's previous estimate of 8 percent.

Some 74.4 million travelers boarded domestic or international flights from January to November in 2015, up 12 percent from the same period a year earlier, Central Statistics Agency data has shown.

Asean Open Skies policy was slated to launch in 2015, but Indonesia postponed signing on to the scheme until August due to concerns local airlines were underprepared in competing against foreign airlines.

Analysts have said little has changed in the extra year.

"I don't think we are ready [to join Asean Open Skies policy] because of the inequality of our airlines. We have 30 owners of air operator certificate, but only six to seven airlines still regularly offer its services and the rest are collapsing," Arista Atmadjati, an aviation analyst from Arista Indonesia Aviation Center (AIAC), said.

"We are lacking pilots, copilots and mechanics. These positions can be filled by skilled laborers from the Philippines, Malaysia or Singapore," he said.

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