Indonesia to announce new safety ratings for airlines: Transport minister

Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan announced plans on Tuesday to introduce safety ratings for all airlines operating in the country starting as early as next month. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM 
Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan announced plans on Tuesday to introduce safety ratings for all airlines operating in the country starting as early as next month. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM 

JAKARTA ((REUTERS) - Indonesia's transport minister announced plans on Tuesday to introduce safety ratings for all airlines operating in the country starting as early as next month.

Mr Ignasius Jonan said airlines would be evaluated every three months and those that got poor safety ratings would be punished.

"I want all airlines to follow the rating. We will become the inspector," Jonan told reporters, declining to elaborate on what the ratings system or sanctions against airlines would entail.

"We will announce (details) perhaps early next month," he added.

Indonesia's patchy aviation record has again come under scrutiny since Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501 crashed into the Java Sea last month, killing all 162 people on board.

President Joko Widodo has called for an urgent overhaul of the aviation sector, which is among the fastest-growing in the region, with airlines mushrooming to cater to demand from a growing middle class.

Analysts say infrastructure has failed to keep up with the boom in air travel in Southeast Asia's biggest economy, leading to overcrowded airports.

The transport minister proposed a number of rule changes at a parliamentary hearing last week, including requiring daily health checks for flight crews and air traffic controllers, and that route permits be obtained four months in advance.

The transport ministry has suspended AirAsia's Surabaya-Singapore licence for operating flight QZ8501 on a Sunday, for which it did not have permission. However, the ministry has said this had no bearing on the crash.