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Indonesia suspends dozens of flights for no permits
[JAKARTA] Indonesia's transport ministry said Friday it had suspended 61 domestic flight routes operated by national flag carrier Garuda and a group of budget airlines because they did not have permits.
The suspensions followed a probe into the Indonesian aviation sector after an AirAsia plane that crashed on December 28, killing all 162 people on board, was subsequently found to be on its route without a permit.
"Garuda Indonesia has committed four violations, Lion Air has 35 violations, Wings Air has 18 violations, Trans Nusa has one violation, and Susi Air has 3 violations," Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan told a press conference.
"They committed violations of their permits. They don't have the flight permits (for the 61 routes). It's the same violation as AirAsia."
The transport ministry had already banned Indonesia AirAsia from flying between Surabaya, the nation's second biggest city, to Singapore.
Contact with AirAsia Flight 8501 was lost about 40 minutes after it took off from Surabaya and crashed into the Java Sea.
The transport ministry had said Indonesia AirAsia was allowed to fly between Surabaya and Singapore but not on a Sunday, the day of the crash.
Investigators have not linked AirAsia Flight 8501's lack of a permit to the crash. Indonesia's weather bureau has said stormy weather was likely to blame.
Mr Jonan also said the audit had not discovered any more permit violations by Indonesia AirAsia.
But he said 11 air transport officials would face disciplinary action for the permit fiasco, and that efforts would be made to prevent any repeats.
"As a follow up of this result, we have ordered the air transport directorate general to improve supervision on the implementation of air transport laws and regulations," he said.
"There will be transparency of scheduled flight routes with a system so that requests for flight schedules, route permits and slots will be online." Jonan indicated the consequences for Garuda and the other budget airlines would not be severe, stating they could now apply to operate the routes that had just been suspended.
Indonesia's air travel industry is booming, with domestic passengers growing nearly five-fold over the past decade and airlines scoring billion-dollar deals with foreign plane makers.
But it has a dismal air safety record and reputation for chaotic regulation.