As mentioned in my previous post, Visit Indonesia Year program is happening this year. So many skepticisms, doubts, and concerns are twirling around this program. Which understandable, I think, considering a series of unfortunate events (outside the political/religious issue) that were effecting Indonesia. One of those unfortunate events is the undependability of Indonesian airlines. Remember when an Adam Air jet plunged into the sea off Sulawesi island on January 1, 2007? Killed 102 on board. Also a Garuda jet crashed in Central Java in March of the same year with 21 dead. Which exactly why the European Union (EU) had to ban all Indonesian airlines, including national carrier Garuda Indonesia (since 2006, if I’m not mistaken). This is not good for VIY program (or Indonesia’s tourism industry in general), if Garuda can’t come in or out to the European countries.

Transport Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal said that Indonesia will try to accelerate the revocation of the ban by proposing a ‘fast-track programme’. That’s why just recently, during the Singapore Airshow, Garuda Indonesia (state-owned) purchased 10 Boeing 777-300ERs airplanes worth 2.3 billion dollars; while low-cost airline Lion Air acquired 56 Boeing 737-900ERs worth about 4.4 billion dollars. Garuda president director, Emirsyah Satar, said that following the order, Garuda was planning to open new routes to European and U.S. cities, beside being an attempt a push to lift the ban.

While it’s not bad to dream big by aiming the international flights, I personally think our Transport Minister should take care the domestic ones too. To satisfy local customers is as important as pleasing the international ones. Adam Air’s crash opened the year of 2007 with a bang, a Mandala Airlines crashed after take off on Sumatra island in 2005 (143 fatality), a Garuda Airbus crashed into a jungle-covered mountain slope in Sumatra and killed all 234 people aboard. Two months later, a Silk Air jet crashed into a river on Sumatra (104 fatality) —source.

And please, other than buying new(er) prototype of the airplanes, make sure the other elements in ensuring global aviation safety and prevention of accidents are maintained. Be it frequent maintenance for the airplane, worker’s training, or maintaining the safety of the runway. I, too, want to feel safe flying within Indonesia -as a local, an Indonesian- just like a foreign tourist. Don’t we have the same right?

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