Editorial: Airlines Must Adapt to Liberalization

JANUARY 06, 2015

Liberalization of the region’s aviation industry within the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Open Skies policy will greatly benefit both the nation’s industry and general public.

First, the recent crash of Indonesia AirAsia’s flight has highlighted the urgent need for the total overhaul of the country’s aviation industry, which for far too long enjoyed almost zero accountability despite being a business that sells safety and comfort to its customers.

The industry’s notorious record of lax security means it often puts lives in danger.

The aftermath of the AirAsia crash also shows that while it is one of the few industries using the latest technology, many of its officials are accused of accepting bribes to change schedules or flight slots.

While the reform of the industry will need to be done by Indonesian authorities and airlines, liberalization of the industry will help expedite the process. Indonesia’s aviation service, safety and security standards will be forced to keep up with regional practises. Otherwise, people here will turn to foreign airlines, while Indonesian airlines will not be able to penetrate other markets.

Regional scrutiny will force Indonesia’s system and practices to become more transparent allowing the public to know and criticize mismanagement by the airlines and the government.

Liberalization also brings competition — always good for the consumer. Rival airlines will race to lure customers with lower prices and better service.

Currently, customers don’t have many options with only a few players in the industry. Airlines can dictate prices and provide any level of service they like without anything customers can do about it.

Instead of complaining, local airlines and the government must prepare themselves and welcome the implementation of the Asean Open Skies policy.