Sat, 12 Aug 2000

Government to issue licenses to four chartered airlines

JAKARTA (JP): The government is expected to grant operating permits to four new chartered airlines this year, adding to the existing 110 licensed operators, a senior official of the Ministry of Communications said here on Friday.

In a media conference, Soenaryo Yosopratomo, Director-general of Air Communications, did not disclose their names but warned that other applicants in the pipeline might not be as lucky.

"Most will probably back down when they can't get the routes they want," Soenaryo said when asked about the fate of about 60 other companies which have registered with the Ministry to operate chartered and scheduled flights.

In June, the government gave seven local airlines permission to operate domestic and international scheduled flights.

The seven are Pelita Air Service, Indonesian Airlines Avi Patria, AIRWAGON International (AWAIR), Lion Mentari Air (Lion Airlines), Bayu Indonesia Air, Rusmindo Internusa Air and Jatayu Air. They will compete against the existing five scheduled carriers: state-owned Garuda Indonesia and Merpati Nusantara Airlines, and private operators Mandala Airlines, Bouraq Airlines, and Dirgantara Air Service.

The rest of the existing airlines operate chartered flights.

The government categorizes routes as being "fat" such as Jakarta-Denpasar and Jakarta-Surabaya with more than 200,000 passengers a year, or "thin" such as Jakarta-Yogyakarta, Jakarta- Lombok, and Ujung Pandang-Irian Jaya with less than 200,000 passengers.

"There is a limit to how many airlines can service a `fat' route," Soenaryo said adding that if the limit was met, then the route would be closed to other airlines.

"Thin" routes could only be serviced by one airline. "If we give permission to more, they will likely die," he said.

An airline could state their proposed routes, but the decision to award them would be up to the government, he said.

On the same occasion, Soenaryo outlined the government's plan to upgrade the existing terrestrial-based air traffic control system to a satellite-based control system.

The initial project would be launched in 2005 and is expected to be fully operational by 2010, Soenaryo said.

The satellite-based system would make navigation more accurate, and ensure a strong signal across Indonesia, he said.

"There will be no more blank spots, where communication is rendered impossible," he said. (10)