JAKARTA - EU POLICYMAKERS on Thursday welcomed a move by Indonesia to slap tougher safety laws on its airlines.
Indonesian-registered aircraft were banned from EU airspace last year following a series of crashes.
The new regulations, passed on Wednesday, incorporate safety standards recommended by the industry's international body, including the creation of a safety committee answerable to the president which would investigate crashes.
'The European Commission congratulates the Indonesian authorities on the passing of the aviation law through the house of representatives,' it said in a statement.
'This was one of the elements called for by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and is a significant development for the improvement of air safety in Indonesia.'
'The new committee will be held responsible directly to the president and carry out investigations of aviation accidents,' Transport ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said.
Violators of the safety procedures will also face tougher penalties up to five years' jail and fines up to 500 million rupiah (S$66,162), he said.
Transport Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal said the EU should lift its ban as soon as the ICAO approved the new regulations.
'If the ICAO approves our standards the EU will have no reason to ban us, except on a discriminatory basis,' he was quoted as saying by The Jakarta Post.
The June 2007 European ban followed deadly crashes including an Adam Air jet that plunged into the sea off Sulawesi island on Jan 1, 2007, killing all 102 on board, and a Garuda jet which crashed in Central Java in March of the same year killing 21.
No Indonesian airlines fly regularly to and from the EU but under European rules passengers must be informed if an airline is on the list of banned carriers and can demand reimbursement or an alternative carrier for tickets bought in Europe for flights that do not enter EU skies. -- AFP