Mar 07

Plane burned out when landing in Yogyakarta todayAfter the recent air travel disasters in Indonesia, things get really tricky to evaluate the safest airlines in the country. Sooner or later you have to fly in or out of the country or will use a plane to travel between one of the 17.000 islands.

What are the latest scores?

  • just today a Garuda Airlines Boeing 737-400 burst into flames when landing, killing 21 people in Yogyakarta
  • a few weeks back in january an ADAM Air airplane (a 737-400 as well) simply disappeared from the radar screen on its way to Sulawesi, taking a 102 lifes with it
  • end of february another ADAM Air plane crashed when landing in Surabaya, fortunately just cracking into 2 parts without any casualties.

Adam Air Plane cracked in SurabayaWhat’s wrong with the airlines in Indonesia?

Does fierce competition lead to less safety and maintenance, as several sources report?

Just on the Bali airport alone you have the following domestic airlines to chose from, when you simply want to fly to, let’s say, Jakarta – the capital of Indonesia: ADAM Air, Batavia Air, Citilink, Mandala Air, Merpati Air, Garuda Air, Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air, Wings Air.

Prices range from as low as Rp 200.000 to Rp 800.000 one way. Is too much competition too much for maintaining proper safety standards?

Is it lack of education of airport and plane personal, or just “devil-may-care” attitude?

Too much competition, planes too old, lack of education or “Devil may care!”?

Or are the planes simply too old? Indcoup compiled an interesting overview of the average age of indonesian airplanes, which looks like this:

  • Garuda Indonesia – Age 10 years
  • Lion Air – Age 17.2 years
  • Adam Air – Age 18.1 years
  • Awair – Age 18.8 years
  • Merpati – 21.8 years
  • Batavia – Age 23.4 years
  • Sriwijaya Air – Age 23.5 years
  • Mandala Airlines – Age 23.9 years
  • Bouraq Indonesia Airlines – Age 25.1 years

The old age of airplanes was one of the reasons, why a way lower age (maximum 10 years) for airplanes was mulled just a few weeks back, though no decision were made yet. Hopefully those new rules will come into place now rather sooner than later.

Measures on the way?

Air Mandala Crash in Sumatra in 2005Just on 28th of february, Indonesia’s Vice President Yussuf Kalla took as well a high stand regarding safety measure in the transportation industry; as there’ve been too many disasters (train crashes, sinking and burning ferries, crashing planes) in just the recent few months.

Forcing the airlines to modernize their fleets would probably lead to a much needed consolidation of companies and higher safety standards in the whole indonesian airline industry.

As one aviation analyst puts it: “What Indonesia needs is 5 or 10 big airlines, not the 23 there at the moment”.

Garuda IndonesiaSo far, Garuda as the country’s national carrier was still the safest airline in the country. Not anymore.

There is currently no domestic airline with flawless safety record in Indonesia to rely on!

Until the new measures will come into place and show some effect, there is only one advise one can give the airline traveler in Indonesia:

Avoid local airlines if you can! Use foreign airlines like Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Thai or Jetstar to fly in and out of the country.

When traveling in Indonesia check for and use alternative modes of transportation if possible.

Technorati : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

or save article to your Facebook with 1 simple click:


written by Chris

46 Responses to “What is currently the safest airline in Indonesia?”

  1. MaxNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    Worrying. They’ve started to get strict on quality of planes flying into Europe recently, PIA has just been banned (well, all but about 4 of their craft anyway). It does make sense.
    Are there alternatives to flying between the islands? What’s the ferry system like?

  2. JeroenNo Gravatar MALAYSIA Says:

    I flew Transnusa/Trigana air between Lombok and Bali a few times – they had good looking ATR 42 prop planes. Once I did it with Merpati in a shaking old Boeing jet in which everything was broken, and all plastic corners chipped.
    How is Transnusa/Trigana’s record?

  3. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Thanx for the tip. If life is at risk, why ignore such warnings? I might say we have far safer domestic planes here in our country than in Indonesia…

  4. ADAM Air out of business by next week? | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] What is currently the safest airline in Indonesia? […]

  5. 3 Indonesian Airlines Risk Closure | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] What is currently the safest airline in Indonesia? […]

  6. Would you fly a Budget Carrier long-haul? | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] Would you trust them enough to go the extra mile and fly with them from continent to continent, especially after the recent flight disasters in Asia for instance? […]

  7. Norman SukardiNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Indonesia’a aviation industry indeed has been hit hard recently. With crashes and hard landing simply doesnt make things any better. on the other note, local regulators has been working hard concentrating into socializationof safety culture ny introducing safety measures such as OSMS.
    In regards of he safest airline, i would say Garuda Indonesia still hold that reputation follow by lion air and air asia.

  8. Things happen for a reason in Indonesia | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] Norman Sukardi: Indonesia’a aviation industry indeed has been hit hard recently. With crashes and hard landing… […]

  9. hang-gliderNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    The only person who thinks Lion or Adam are the safest in Indonesia need to have their heads tested. New aircraft does mean safe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve flown in second world war aircraft a they were safe! Maintenance is the key so age is not always the key factor.

  10. No-Frills Flights are taking off for Long-Haul Routes! | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] Awhile ago we were discussing, if it’s a wise or safe decision to fly a Budget Carrier long-haul. However your opinion is about that subject – luckily time didn’t stop and some of the usual suspects seem to follow through with the idea. […]

  11. Prastowo A. JudanaNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    hang-glider Says:

    July 10th, 2007 at 1:02 pm
    The only person who thinks Lion or Adam are the safest in Indonesia need to have their heads tested. New aircraft does mean safe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve flown in second world war aircraft a they were safe! Maintenance is the key so age is not always the key factor.

    I totally agree with it. Maintenance is one of the most key factor in airlines safety compliant.

    On October 2007 Indonesian aviation authorities have upgraded the safety rankings of three domestic airlines to its top category.

    The complete story can be found at

    Mandala air (one of the airline got promoted), this year they purchase new 30 A-320 airplanes from Airbus. But before this, although it was said the average age of their airplanes was around 23 year, but I never heard there was any incidents with this airlines in the last 10 years.

    So, maintenance is the key factor in aviation safety compliant.

  12. Cloudless Sky ahead for Lion Air? | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] is something positive to report about Indonesian Airlines. After all we had at least 1 airlines catastrophe every few months for the last couple of years. There was even talk of closure of some of the […]

  13. Adam Air Indonesia grounded! | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] some of Indonesia’s famed airlines obviously trying their best to get their acts together – this can’t be said about the most […]

  14. BrigittaNo Gravatar SWITZERLAND Says:

    :-o Na dann hoffe ich mal das Beste für uns, wenn wir im Juli von Semarang nach Pankalanbun – Semarang – Balikpapan – Denpasar filegen. Wenn du fliegen müsstest, mit wem würdest du fliegen?
    Gruss, brigitta

  15. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Brigitta – gute Frage! Ich weiss nicht, welche Airlines diese Route ueberhaupt fliegen. Adam Air ist ja mittlerweile nicht mehr da. Gut so! Ich mag Lion Air sehr gern, neue Flugzeuge und auch sonst so scheinen die kapiert zu haben, wo es langgeht.

    Gute Reise! ;-)

  16. BrigittaNo Gravatar SWITZERLAND Says:

    Hey Chris. Danke für die Rückmeldung. Wie ich sehe haben einige der Reiseunternehmer die Trigana Airlines im Programm. Mal sehen wen sie auslesen werden. Fliegen werde ich ja so oder so. Ich werde vermutlich so im Reisefieber sein (mein erster Indonesien-Aufenthalt) und mich so auf den Regenwald und seine Bewohner freuen, dass ich keine Zeit für Flugangst haben werde (hoffe ich auf jeden Fall ;-)
    Gruss, Brigitta

  17. CoralNo Gravatar TAIWAN Says:

    How about Batavia Air? I am intending to fly with this airline this July when I travel to central Java (from Jakarta to Yogyakarta) Can I trust Batavia Air? I can’t find many news about this airline. Its website looks very simple and I even can’t find anything about it on the website to Aviation Safety Network. What is its rating? Rating 1, 2, or 3? I really don’t know if I should just forget about flying in Indonesia. Thanks for any advice~

  18. Sagar naikNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Even indian airlines subsidery alliance air has b737 aircraft aged more than 23yrs but accept one or two incidents their record is good i m management student and planning an airlines.let’s see if anybody is interested in investing plz contact

  19. Sagar naikNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    All alliance air aircraft’s(atr-42 b737) are converted into air india regional and air indian cargo. All aviation lover plz take look on HAL(Hindustan aeronautics limited) dhruv helicopter it is advanced light multirole helicopter operating in all 3 wings of india IAF,Indian navy,indian army and indian cost guard and indian oil giant ongc .it is great aircraft

  20. HadyuNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    As an Indonesian, I will give my most objective point of view by laying down some facts that you may have missed.

    On one hand, Indonesian aviation has shown admirable progress over the past 2 years:
    1. No major civil aviation’s accident has been recorded ever since Garuda’s crash in 2007;
    2. The pilot responsible for the accident has been sentenced by the court to 2 years in prison for negligence, as it was proven that he intentionally ignored all the signs pointing out to the fact that he was about to land too fast and sudden;
    3. The government closed down Adam Air last year, citing safety concerns;
    4. Garuda, Lion Air, and Mandala recently bought new aircrafts to replace some of their old-modeled jets;
    5. A new aviation law ensuring better standards of safety was promulgated by the government in the beginning of this year; and
    6. The European Union, being satisfied with the law, has promised to lift their ban upon Indonesian airlines from entering Europe by late June at the latest.

    However, when hard efforts have been made to improve the quality of civil aviation, a slight lack of attention has resulted in a military aircraft crashing recently in East Java, killing hundreds. The aircraft was known to be at least 20 years of age, and this raises a concern on the poor financing for the maintenance of military aircrafts, partially attributable to, among other things, the poverty of the country and, potentially, the well-known rampant corruption in the country.

    My conclusion being, Indonesian aviation currently remains fragile, because safety standards have not been entirely the same in both civil and military aviation. Having said that, when you know that you’ll only be flying civil commercial airlines in Indonesia, I do not see too many reasons why you should be vigorously concerned about the safety. Indeed there are still quite a lot of rooms for improvement, but they are evidently progressing very well. Not giving them a chance to prove that they are much better than they used to be is simply a loss, for them and for you.

    Judging from personal experience, I would recommend anyone to fly with the following airlines, for I find them to be currently the safest airlines of Indonesia:
    1. Garuda Indonesia
    2. Mandala Airlines
    3. Lion Air
    4. Air Asia

    Regards from Jakarta.

  21. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Hadyu, great insight and many thanks for giving your valuable impressions here. I have to agree with you completely, that there has been a lot of progress made over the last few years. What do you think, was that because or despite the pressure of the European and American flight associations? :-/

  22. WillNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:


    I am hoping to fly from denpasar to Maumere Flores in August 2009. I was glad to notice that Merpati now has online bookings……but I am just interested in people’s opinions on Merpati Air? how safe is it? I understand they are the only airline to fly this route?

    the plan at moment is to fly out to Maumere and treck back to Bali over a month or so…..

    This will by first time to Indonesia so any tips and advice will be appreciated

  23. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Will, I’ve never flown with Merpati. Back in the days, you could only hear bad news about them: notoriously unreliable, very old planes, delays, skipped flights. But that’s only from hear-say and 2nd hand opinions from a few years back.

    There was a lot of progress in Indonesia’s airline industry recently – not sure though, if Merpati was positively affected also. You might want to google a bit or check the usual review sights for more up2date information.

  24. LizNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I’m planning to fly on Indonesian airlines from Jakarta to Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan, Borneo in mid-August. A tour company has booked us with Batavia Air from Jakarta to Pontianak, and then Kalstar from Pontianak to Pangkalanbun, later returning to Jakarta on Riau. I have read about the Batavia wing incident and that they have old planes, but I cannot find much out about the smaller airlines. Any thoughts would be very appreciated. I want to do the trip but not at a huge safety risk.

  25. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Liz, for us who don’t speak Bahasa Indonesia well enough, it’s generally difficult to find out credible news about Indonesia’s airline safety. Like in comment #23 I would say, that a lot of improvements have been made over the last couple of years (the ban by the EU started to move quite some things in the right direction) – but like with all else in Indonesia, you can’t be 100% sure.

    The fact that the last deadly incident is more than 12 months back and that Airline (Adam Air) was brought out of business, might help you to come to a decision. There are many thousands of flights every day in Indonesia and nothing happened for a couple of months. Still – nobody will give you any guarantees, that nothing will happen in the future or on your flights. :-/

  26. PrastNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Just like what Hadyu have said (in comment #20) about our civil aviation has becoming better in the past two years.

    Garuda, Mandala & Lion Air recently bought new aircrafts. Garuda bought 737-800 NG, Mandala bought A320 – A330, while Lion Air is recorded as the first user of 737-900 ER. These airlines are a very good one in term of safety.

    These airlines above are the best airlines so far in Indonesia. But if you’re looking for a smaller planes, you can try Airfast or Gatari Air. They operated small airplanes (with less than 80 passengers per planes). I think they are good airlines too.

  27. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Prast, right on the point! I forgot about Hadyu‘s detailed comment before and you added some more facts also. Thanks! :D

  28. RioNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Great news for Indonesian civil aviation!!! EU will lift ban on 4 Indonesian airlines:

    In addition, here’s what I’ve got to say to respond to Will and Liz:

    Speaking of safety, Merpati and Batavia Air are frankly not among the best Indonesian airlines. Merpati however, is slightly better than Batavia. Since the 2007 consecutive air disasters in Indonesia, Merpati has worked very hard to improve its safety, and as a result, the government has classified its safety record as “category one” (one being excellent, three being poor). It is also well-known as the only airlines which serves remote routes that most Indonesian airlines do not serve, making it convenient for travelers who need to mobilize from one island into another within the archipelago. On the other hand, Batavia is relatively a newcomer in the industry, trying to garner credibility and reputation from the public, but I would say….. they’re not there yet.

    Both have relatively old jets, and were recently involved in a series of non-lethal incidents, such as runway overshoot, failure to take-off/ land, and broken tire. I’d say that a reconsideration may be worthy before you decide to fly those airlines.

  29. ChrisWNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Does anyone have any experiences with Riau airlines? I’m planning on flying with them soon and was curious. I generally take the attitude that there is always a risk, so don’t worry about it, but thought i’d ask.

  30. FrancisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Indonesian civil aviation has made significant strides towards safety, but the millitary air crashes has been significant recently, not because of lack of funding or corruption, but from US ban on millitary parts and weapons sales. Someone else’s fault, considering the ban sits on US politicians desk for decades, it is an accident waiting to happen. They only lift the ban after a major aircrash, obviously a knee jerk policy.

    The airlines are trying to make income on most Indonesians who don’t have a lot, making some of the airfares so low, its so low its horrendous. I checked flights from Riau to Jakarta recently and I was trying to ponder how will the airline earn money, or buy new parts and, make the airline able to recover costs to replace old airframes. This part, its the business people must be responsible. Earning money at the cost of peoples safety is not right. They should know that having a single aircraft fail is very painful to investors pockets and their conscience.

    As with Adam Air Flight 574, recovering the black boxes 6000 meters below the sea was indeed futile. The plane crashed on 1 January 2007, but retrieved the Flight Data Recorder on 27 August and Cockpit Voice Recorder on 28 August because of lack of funding and finger pointing. I doubt the Indonesian government don’t have resources, as a matter of fact, they have funds but they chose the carrier to recover the debris.

    From the private company’s point of view, once you have an air crash, the risk of the company being dissolved is very imminent, all the stockholders will pull off money and the company will just declare bankruptcy. People will bleed to death getting funds from a company that is bound to fail, so in this step, I believe the Indonesian government must step up and pay for the costs. Time was running out then, blackboxes beacon batteries will only last for 30 days. Lucky the blackboxes are not far apart from the aircraft’s main debris or else the truth about the crash will just be a mystery to families lost their lives.

    Just a point of view. I might be wrong with my assumptions considering I am not an Indonesian. I hope Indonesians don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of Indonesian friends and I would say they are the best people I met in the world. I don’t have problems with them, but I do have problems with the system of governance.

  31. webpage makerNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    :-B It’s true that Qantas has zero fatalies, but El Al Airlines and Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel absolutely are the safest in the world today. And guess what? They most certainly do have racial profiling. It works. L-) :-B

  32. MATTHEWNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    :-o :-o
    What is safer. Risking one of these airline, or driving on indonesias roads?

  33. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Definitely more people die every day on Indonesia’s roads. So yeah, it should be no problem taking any of those mentioned airlines, Matthew. It also seems that the government made their homework, by cleaning up the airline mess in the country. Even Europe allows again for flagship carrier Garuda and others to fly into its airspace. So there must have been some progress in the recent years, the last disaster is already a few years back….let’s hope that it stays that way. :-?

  34. Prastowo A. JudanaNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    I just amazed to this topic. It still live for more than 3 years.

    Anyway Indonesian airlines nowadays are much better than 3 years ago. At least 3 airlines stated in the topic above has been shut down or unoperated anymore (Adam Air, Bouraq – was one of my favorite low cost carrier – and Awair). And some of them have regain permit to fly to EU again.

    Matthew, I think to fly is much more safer than driving on Indonesian roads. I live in Jakarta and have my big families in Surabaya. On vacations or holidays back to Surabaya I always take airplanes to get me there.It’s only 1 hour 10 minutes flight compared to more than 12 hours of exhausting and full of risks driving.

  35. MATTHEWNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Lion air, only 1 fatal incident with 25 deaths in 2004. Sure they lost a few hulls, but the passengers got out alive. A few skids of the runway,/ hard landings etc.

    But, over 1 million passengers per month. Thats over 12m per year. many delayed flights..

    But, the last deadly accident was 2004. So, that means the chance is less than 1 in a million. Arroud 1 in 6 million probability of death. To me, that is pretty safe.

    And, since then, the fleet has been upgraded with new boeing.

    And remember, indonesia is a land the size of europe. Alot of smaller airports do not have expensive safety equipment, long runways etc.

    I must admit, having just flown lionair, i was not majorly impressed, but not for safety, but because they where delayed every time, and because the seat pitch was so poor.

    This airline is designed to provide travel to the masses, and it is very popular in indonesia, as its prices are unbeatable.

    For me, next time I will spend a bit more, and go for comfort.

  36. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    My words also Matthew! I like Lion Air as well, they are doing better already the last couple of years. Things seem to look up in the Indonesian Aviation industry. ;-)

  37. PaulNo Gravatar NEW ZEALAND Says:

    Air Asia is Malaysian.

  38. GauravNo Gravatar SWEDEN Says:


    Can someone give any feedback on Jetstar..a low cost airlines. I have to travel to singapore from Jakarta on jetstar..

    //Gaurav :-?

  39. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Gaurav, JetStar is usally a very reliable budget carrier with a good track record. A few years ago they merged with ValueAir. Service is so so, but there is really nothing much wrong with them, other than lately they are almost always slightly more expensive than AirAsia for instance for similar routes. You could also look into TigerAirways, which is a Singapore-run company. If you get a good deal with JetStar, you definitely can go ahead with them without any worries.

  40. GauravNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Thanks alot Chris…I really appreciate your valuable feedback..!!!!

  41. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    You’re welcome, Gaurav!

  42. BramNo Gravatar NETHERLANDS Says:

    Hi there!

    Is this topic still up to date?

    Could anyone tell me something about Air Trigana? We would like to fly Jakarta – PangakalanBun in coming march.

    Does anyone know if i can book uit somewheren? at their website it is not possible.

    Hope to hear.

    Kind regards


  43. marisaNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:


    does anyone have more up to date info on the safety situation of airlines in Indonesia? I’m planning to fly from Jakarta to Yogyakarta and I’ve come across Lion Airlines/Lion Mentari Airlnees flights and then found out that they’ve been banned by the EU! is Garuda a better option, despite the crash a few years ago? I’m getting a bit paranoid…



  44. Phil UKNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Hi, I am visiting Ambon in January and I am looking for flights to Kei, Maluku. I have heard that Trigana fly to Langgur but has anybody heard of any other airlines. Thanks help appreciated

  45. ElisaNo Gravatar not found Says:

    Hi all,
    can you tell me something about Transnusa? I’ll go to Flores and I’m deciding between Transnusa or Lion Air but operated from Wings air, how is it?

  46. romNo Gravatar not found Says:

    what are the root cause of these problems? lack of trainings on pilots?
    why not hire foreign pilots? some planes are not old enough. its purely human error i guess.

Leave a Reply

Hey, if you want a picture to show by your comment, why not get a gravatar?

;-) :twisted: :roll: :oops: :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :evil: :cry: :arrow: :?: :-| :-x :-o :-P :-D :-? :) :( :!: 8-O 8)