Indonesia on track to improve air safety
ICAO chief says it is taking the right steps.
TANGERANG, Indonesia, July 5 (Reuters) - Indonesia is taking the right steps to improve aviation safety but needs to be more transparent, the chief of the global aviation body said on Thursday.
The Southeast Asian nation's air safety record has come under scrutiny after two major air accidents this year.
The European Union also moved to ban Indonesian airlines from its airspace last week, citing safety concerns.
Roberto Kobeh Gonzales, president of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), said the EU move might have resulted from a lack of information.
"Indonesia is taking the right measures and they are in the right way," Gonzales told reporters after inspecting an aircraft maintenance site run by national carrier Garuda Indonesia near the capital Jakarta.
The executive European Commission has adopted proposals from a committee of air safety experts to ban Indonesian airlines from the 27-nation grouping. The ban will come into force on Friday.
No Indonesian airlines fly to the EU, but the ban will oblige tourist agencies to warn customers that Indonesian airlines are unsafe if they sell package tours using such carriers on the Indonesian archipelago of more than 17,000 islands.
Gonzales urged Indonesia to negotiate to have the ban lifted.
"Maybe it's a problem of information and I hope with more information and more transparency we know what you are doing."
He said the fact the Garuda maintenance centre had many international customers showed it was in a good shape.
Indonesia signed on Monday an agreement with ICAO to improve air safety, committing itself to implementing safety management based on international standards.
In March, a Garuda Indonesia plane with 140 people on board overshot the runway in Yogyakarta in Java and burst into flames, killing 21 people, five of them Australians.
In January, a plane belonging to budget carrier Adam Air crashed into the sea off Sulawesi island. All 102 on board are presumed dead.
Separately on Thursday, Indonesia's aviation chief told Reuters by telephone the EU ban was one-sided.
"We are against this unilateralism. If we want, we can retaliate but we will not," Budhi Mulyawan Suyitno, director general of civil aviation at the transport ministry, said.
"We want to open dialogue because safety is everybody's issue. We want to work hard and show the world that we have changed and made a lot of improvements," he said.
Suyitno said Australia's endorsement of Garuda showed that the EU blanket ban was ill-informed.
Indonesia announced in June after an audit that only Garuda made the top ranking of three levels.
Air travel in Indonesia has blossomed since the liberalisation of the sector in 1999, but the rapid growth has raised questions over whether safety has been compromised.
(Additional reporting by Ahmad Pathoni in Jakarta)
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