Editorial: Minister’s Punitive Stance Doesn’t Fly

JANUARY 08, 2015

Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan could have started a revolution within his own ministry — in the directorates general of land, sea and air transportation — by, for instance, punishing corrupt and underperforming officials, establishing a clear system of rewards and disincentives, or being more strict about implementing existing regulations.

The crash of an Indonesia AirAsia jet on Dec. 28 should have been an indication of just what a rotten ministry he inherited — in particular the office dealing with air transportation. Jonan should have overhauled the system, technology and manpower, including those responsible for air traffic control, and for granting flight permits.

Instead, he has chosen to shift the blame form the crash of the plane, which was not permitted to fly on a Sunday, to private airlines. He has also punished the public by implementing a new regulation that caps minimum ticket prices. The cheapest ticket now available may not be less than 40 percent of the price of the most expensive one for any given route. His rationale? Ticket prices are so low that poor profitability impairs airlines’ ability to comply with aviation safety standards.

This is as nonsensical as anything can get, and against the law of free market competition.

There is no link between raising ticket prices and improving safety standards. Who can guarantee that the money gained from the price hike will be used to boost safety measures?

Airlines are businesses, and as such operate to maximize profit.

Jonan’s policy will ultimately lead to ticket price increases, unnecessarily punishing the public and the airlines by limiting their pricing options, and hurt the nation as a whole by restricting travel and business across the archipelago.