More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal

More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal
Volkswagen has admitted it installed illegal software into 11 million 2.0 liter and 3.0 liter diesel engines worldwide (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Volkswagen emissions scandal

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 commercial jet.

QZ8501 (AirAsia)

Leaders see horror of French Alps crash as probe gathers pace

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Saturday, June 30, 2007

EU flight ban a 'good' lesson for RI airlines

M. Taufiqurrahman and Andi Haswidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Responding to a looming ban on Indonesian airlines flying to Europe, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said that although it would not inflict have any serious financial consequences, it could nevertheless put the future of the domestic airline industry at risk.

"The psychological impact will be great. Imagine people from the Netherlands who want to travel to Bali. They will fly first to Singapore and then take Singapore Airlines to Bali," Kalla told reporters Friday.

He admitted, however, that it should serve as a good lesson for domestic airlines and encourage them to improve their safety standards.

"We can only improve when there is criticism," he said.

The European Commission announced Thursday that it planned to ban all 51 Indonesian airlines from flying to the Europe starting June 6.

The ban comes as national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia is considering reestablishing its Amsterdam service, which was discontinued in 2004.

Kalla said that Indonesia's air transportation authorities now had the task of convincing the commission that domestic airlines had taken the necessary measures to improve their safety standards.

"For instance, Garuda has been upgraded to category I, which means that it's a safe airline and this is what Garuda should explain to the European Commission," he said.

Indonesian Transportation Society (MTI) chairman Bambang Susantono said he was sure that the ban was the result of a communications failure.

"Some of our airlines, including Garuda, have improved their safety standards and fully comply with the international standards," he told The Jakarta Post.

Bambang also expressed skepticism about how the commission's experts arrived at their conclusions, "I don't remember them coming here to inspect the airlines directly."

However, Bambang said that seeking information from pilots flying in and out of Jakarta might have been one of the ways used to gather information on air safety standards in Indonesia.

Bambang said that the air transportation authorities now needed to mount a public safety campaign to prevent other countries following the commission's decision.

Garuda president director Emirsyah Satar told the Post that the national flag carrier would cooperate with the government, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines to resolve the issue.

Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) executive director Sudaryatno, who has often criticized Garuda, said that the commission's decision might be justifiable if viewed from the safety perspective.

"However, we must also look at this from the perspective the saturated markets that exist in the developed world. We must be careful as this ban could be part of a strategic plan to ruin the reputation of local airlines so that foreign airlines can get a foothold in this country," Sudaryatno said.

"Soekarno Hatta Airport and Ngurah Rai Airport are no longer gateways to Indonesia. They have been replaced by Singapore's Changi. The situation could worsen if the stakeholders in the industry do not take the necessary steps," he pointed out.

Sudaryatno suggested that the government do all in its power to advance the National Sky Policy, the blueprint for the future of the airline industry.

Earlier, the Transportation Ministry's director general for air transportation, Budhi Mulyawan Suyitno, said that ministry representatives would meet with the European Commission in October to explain the latest developments in the Indonesian airline industry.

Aircraft skids off runway in Papua; no causality

The Jakarta Post

JAYAPURA, Papua Province (Antara): An airplane belonging to PT Trigana skidded off the runway at Mulia airport, Puncak Jaya district, Papua, when it was trying to take off at 3.10 p.m. local time.

Citing a reliable source in the airport, Antara news agency reported that the airplane skidded some 250 meters off the runway, causing its front tires to sink in the soil.

Piloted by Adi Bambang, the aircraft was to fly 21 security personnel of the Papua Regional Police, who had just finished their assignment to guard the installation of a local district head.

No casualty nor injury was reported during the incident of the airplane, which in the morning was flying from Wamena's regency, taking the same security officers.

Indosat to launch new satellite in 2009

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Publicly listed telecommunications firm PT Indonesian Satellite Corporation Tbk (Indosat) is set to launch its second satellite in the third quarter of 2009 to replace its first one, which will be switched off in 2011.

The Palapa-D satellite, to be placed into a geostationary orbit at 113 degrees east longitude, will have a useful lifespan of 15 years and will replace the Palapa-C2 satellite, which has been occupying the same slot since 1996.

The project, worth around US$220 million, has been awarded to France-based telecommunications firm Thales Alenia Space France (TASF), which will build the satellite and launch it in China.

Indosat president director Johnny Swandi Syam said Friday that the new satellite would support the company's cellular network, fixed telephone and fixed data services, as well as its corporate services, comprising telecommunications and data, internet broadband and broadcasting.

At present, Indosat, the country's second largest cellular operator after Telkomsel, has 50 corporate customers, including local, national and international television and radio stations.

"Some 60 percent of this satellite's capacity will be used to support our company's internal backbone, while the remainder will serve our corporate customers," he said during the signing of the project agreement between Indosat and TASF.

The agreement was signed by Johnny and TASF vice president Olivier Badard, and was witnessed by Communications and Information Minister Muhammad Nuh.

With a larger capacity and a wider coverage compared with the previous Palapa-C2 satellite, the Palapa-D satellite will have 40 transponders and will have a footprint that covers Indonesia, the countries of ASEAN, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. The Palapa-C2 only has 34 transponders and its footprint is limited to Indonesia, the ASEAN countries, East Asia and the Middle East.

Financing for the project, Johnny said, was included in the company's capital expenditure allocation of US$1 billion for this year.

Indosat's main competitor, PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia, has launched nine satellites since 1976. The last one, Telkom-2, was launched in November 2005 from French Guyana.

Indosat's satellite business, which includes the company's communications data services, contributed about 13 percent of its overall net profit of Rp 483.9 billion (US$56 million) during the first quarter. The biggest contributor was the cellular business, which accounted for 77 percent of net profit.

This year's first quarter net profit was 26 percent higher than the Rp 383.9 billion recorded in the same period last year on the back of an increase in customers.

Most of the company's capital expenditure this year will go on the building of between 3,500 and 4,000 new relay towers.

As of the end of March, the company had built 7,666 relay towers, representing a 28 percent increase on the 5,971 towers it had at the end of the first quarter last year.

Fallen bridges isolate villages

The Jakarta Post

KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara: Six flood-hit villages in Ngada regency were still isolated Friday after four bridges connecting other villages collapsed.

The isolated areas are Bela and Wogowela villages in Golews district, and Kotakana, Ua, Aewea and Bela villages in Mauponggo district.

"People have had to wade across rivers. However, if rivers are swollen after heavy rains, no one dares to cross," said Stanislaus Dani, an official at the Ngada Social Office, by phone Friday.

According to Stanislaus, the bridges collapsed after being hit by floods and landslides.

The local road network maintenance unit has deployed heavy machinery to landslide-hit areas to clear earth covering the roads.

Stanislaus said four of the bridges had to be completely rebuilt in order to restore transportation networks from cities to villages.

Campaign to halt the nation's road carnage

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Traffic accidents are all too common in Indonesia. According to the traffic police, the number who died last year reached more than 30,000, for the most part due to low awareness of what constitutes safe driving.

Sr. Comr. A. Sukri P, a unit head at the National Police's traffic directorate said Thursday that people in the country still did know about or obey traffic regulations.

Low awareness was not only dangerous for drivers but also other motorists and pedestrians, he said.

"Of the three components of driving -- the driver, the vehicle and the condition of the road -- it's the driver that is the most important," Sukri said.

He said that, as a result of this, there had to be an improvement in driver discipline.

"But first, (drivers) have to understand the rules better."

Police recently started a safe driving campaign, with a particular emphasis on public transport drivers.

The campaign, dubbed Supir Heroik, is aimed at broadening drivers' understanding of traffic regulations, Sukri said at the launch of the social responsibility program of tire producer Goodyear.

The program, supported by the national police headquarters and the directorate for road safety at the Transportation Ministry, is being held to promote safe driving and improve the image of public transport drivers, said Alex Irawan, the finance director of PT Goodyear Indonesia.

Suripno, the ministry's director for road safety, also reminded people to take an active role in promoting safe driving by complying with road rules and controlling their emotions while driving. Accidents could happen if drivers failed to control their emotions, he added.

Workers demand neutral police

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA: An alliance of trade unions held a rally Thursday in front of the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta to demand police stay neutral in disputes between workers and employers.

"We feel that the police often side with employers in the middle of heated discussions between employers and their workers," the alliance's coordinator Anwar Sastro said.

He said police often sent unnecessary numbers of officers to workers' demonstration and abused their power by arresting some workers on the basis of biased reports from employers.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Sisno Adiwinoto said police would stay neutral in labor disputes in order to protect public order.

Police officer arrested for involvement in car theft ring

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Jakarta Police's car theft unit has confirmed it has arrested a police officer on suspicion of being involved with a car theft syndicate, an officer said Friday.

The team arrested First. Brig. Wahyu Murdiyanto in his office at the Jakarta Police headquarters on Jl Sudirman in South Jakarta on Monday.

The arrest followed a police investigation into the alleged illegal sale of high-end cars, complete with faked documents.

Suspicion was raised about the cars after members of the public noticed they were being sold for unusually low prices.

"Earlier, we arrested one man before we arrested Wahyu. Now we are still questioning Wahyu to get more information about what we suspect is a syndicate," the head of the city police's car theft unit, Adj. Comr. Nico Avinta, said Friday.

He said Wahyu was alleged to have played the important role of forging registration documents for cars stolen by the suspected auto theft network.

Police detectives said they believed Wahyu's arrest would lead them to other crooked officers in the police force, arguing it would have been impossible for Wahyu to do his work for the syndicate without the help of other officers.

The Jakarta Police have so far confiscated six cars and are still looking for another eight stolen cars as well as a number of suspects.

Nico said Wahyu could face a sentence of up to four years in prison if found guilty of forgery and taking part in the trade of stolen goods.

The deputy head of the city police's Internal Affairs Department, Comr. Heru Markilat Prasetyo, said Wahyu could face a double set of charges, both criminal and administrative, because he allegedly committed the crimes while still working as an active police officer.

"We will continue to question Wahyu once the criminal investigation is completed," Heru said, as quoted by news portal Tempointeraktif.

According to police records, Wahyu was questioned by both the criminal unit and the Internal Affairs Department over a similar car theft case in August 2005.

At that time, police arrested Wahyu and three other men, Abdul, Muhamad and Ishak, and confiscated one car with forged documents. However, Wahyu was not charged or disciplined by police.

Nico said Wahyu was not dismissed as a police officer in 2005 because one of the witnesses in the case had cleared him of any involvement in the suspected car theft syndicate.

"But we will dismiss him this time if he is proven guilty," Nico said.

RI, ICAO to sign joint declaration

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will sign a joint declaration on the country`s commitment to increase flight safety and security in a summit scheduled for July 2-3 on the resort island of Bali, a Transportation Ministry official said.

"The ICAO`s support to increase flight safety is very strategic especially to coordinate cooperation with relevant parties in implementing the global aviation safety plan and the global aviation safety roadmap," head of the ministry`s public relations service Bambang S. Ervan said on Friday.

The Bali meeting would basically be a follow-up to a strategic action plan drawn up by the ministry to implement its aviation safety plan in the country, he said.

Bambang`s statement came a day after the European Commission said all Indonesian airlines and several from Russia, Ukraine and Angola will be banned from flying to the European Union due to safety concerns.

The ban, to be effective on July 6, was recommended by EU experts in response to a series of air accidents in Indonesia early this year.

However, no airline from Indonesia is operating scheduled flights to any European destination. Garuda Indonesia ceased regular services to Amsterdam and Rome in 2005.

Bambang said ICAO President Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez and ICAO Regional Director for Asia Pacific Office Lalit B. Shah were expected to attend the meeting as ICAO`s guests.

In the course of the Bali meeting, a strategic summit on aviation safety would also be held on July 2-3 and a funding agency meeting on July 4. The two meetings would be attended by representatives of international stakeholders to coordinate assistance and adopt an international cooperation scheme for Indonesia, he said.

The international stakeholders consist of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Directorate Generals of Civil Aviation of several friendly countries, and aviation safety experts of civil aviation authorities in the Asia-Pacific region.

A number of domestic stakeholders including the Office of State Enterprises Minister, the Office of State Minister for Administrative Reforms, the Finance Ministry and the Agency for the Application and Assessment of Technology (BPPT).

Also attending the meeting would be representatives from state airport operators PT Angkasa Pura I and II, the Indonesian National Air Carriers Association (INACA), the Indonesia Air Traffic Controller Association (IATCA) and the Federation of Indonesian Pilots (FPI), as well as relevant industries such as state aircraft maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia, he said.

Friday, June 29, 2007

City warns public of more traffic chaos

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The city administration has warned Jakartans of potential heavy traffic and congestions likely to occur during the construction of three new busway corridors.

Construction work is scheduled to start next month and administration has suggested motorist prepare to take other routes during peak hours.

Head of traffic at the Transportation Agency M. Akbar said the construction of busway corridors eight, nine and 10 would start in July.

Although Akbar's senior and head of the agency Nurrachman earlier said the project would not begin until August.

The three corridors would link Lebak Bulus in South Jakarta to Harmoni in Central Jakarta; Pinang Ranti in East Jakarta to Pluit in North Jakarta; and Cililitan in East Jakarta to Tanjung Priok in North Jakarta.

The roads along the construction sites of the new corridors will not be closed, Akbar said.

"But people can drive through the alternative routes if they find traffic jams," Akbar said.

The construction will cost the city approximately Rp 180 billion (about US$22 million) and is expected to be finished by the end of this year.

Currently a total of 287 buses operate along seven busway corridors.

The transportation agency is also planning to gradually replace single buses with articulated buses.

"The capacity of an articulated bus can reach up to 160 people, while a single bus accommodates only 85 people -- and all the articulated buses will use gas fuel," Akbar said.

Busway operator consortium PT TransJakarta imported 10 articulated buses from China on Sunday, all of which are set to serve busway corridor five at the end of next month.

Australia, RI end air safety training

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA: The Australian and Indonesian air forces conclude Friday their two-week training program for Indonesian air-safety officers at the Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base in East Jakarta.

The training aimed to further develop the professional skills and awareness of Indonesian aviation safety officers.

Group Capt. Ray Press, air force attache at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, said the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) demands a very high standard in aviation safety.

"The class members will need to acquire a high level of expertise to work directly with TNI-AU squadrons at their air-base level to ensure safety procedures are clearly understood and followed by aviators and support personnel," he said Thursday in a media statement.

The training program involved 33 TNI-AU officers and was part of the AUD$24 million (US$20.3 million) Defense Cooperation Program in Indonesia, which involves two-way exchanges, training courses and military exercises in both countries.

Lion Air flight fails on take-off

The Jakarta Post

KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara: A Lion Air plane carrying 98 passengers to Surabaya and Jakarta failed to take off due to faults in its rear wheels and indicator lights on Thursday.

The plane, which was scheduled to leave at 7 a.m. from Kupang's El Tari Airport, was still undergoing repairs as of 11 a.m.

Airport manager Thomas Dima said the problems were detected after the pilot switched on the engines.

"After checks were made, the engine indicator lamp didn't function. It would be too risky to continue the flight," said Dima.

A number of passengers expressed disappointment over the delay. "I have to attend an important function in Surabaya today, but due to the delay I had to cancel it," said passenger Muhammad Anwar.

He said a flight attendant announced the flight had been postponed due to engine failure after all passengers had boarded the plane.

Indonesia will cooperate with EU over airlines ban

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia will cooperate with the European Union and provide it with technical and safety data in hopes of being removed from its black list, an Indonesian Transport Ministry official said on Friday.

"Honestly, the black list itself is not surprising since we have had many airline accidents recently," Transport Ministry Director General for Aviation Budi Mulyawan Suyitno told Deutsche Presse-Agentur DPA.

"Although there is no direct impact, because no Indonesian airlines have been flying to Europe since 2004 ... we will improve our safety measures for Indonesian airlines, and will give the EU commission all the necessary data," Budi Mulyawan said.

The European Commission updated its airlines black list Thursday by banning all 51 Indonesian airlines from flying to the EU.

The black list was an important tool in preventing unsafe airlines from flying in Europe and informing passengers worldwide of safety problems, EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot said.

Indonesian authorities on Tuesday revoked the licences of four domestic airlines and suspended a further five from operating for failing to comply with basic safety standards.

Suyitno said that only the national flag carrier, Garuda, had managed to improve and was elevated to the highest category, after fulfilling 84 per cent of aviation standards.

"In the future, I plan to make all Indonesian airlines' safety on the same level as Garuda," he told dpa.

The government has intensified safety efforts following a string of airline accidents and near-misses, including the crash-landing of a Garuda Airlines plane in Yogyakarta in March that left 21 dead, including five Australians.

Indonesia has dozens of low-cost airlines following the deregulation of the industry in late 1990s, leading to a quadrupling of passenger numbers in the past seven years.

But the industry has been beset by crashes, which prompted the Indonesian government to announce the new ratings system.

On New Year's Day, budget airline Adam Air plane plunged into the ocean off the coast of Sulawesi island en route from the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya to Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi, killing all 102 people on board.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

House to probe satellite fiasco

Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The House of Representatives has established a working committee to investigate the government's failure to extend the operational license for an Indonesian satellite and examine the unregulated issuance of frequency permits for radio and TV stations.

Both cases, legislators alleged, have caused trillions of rupiah in losses to the state.

Jeffrey Massie, a Prosperous Peace Party legislator, said in a press conference here Monday that the House's Commission I for information, defense and foreign affairs would launch the investigation with a closed-door meeting with Communications and Information Minister M. Nuh and Basuki, director general of post and telecommunications at the communications ministry, on July 2.

"The two government officials must give satisfactory explanations on why the government had forgotten to re-register the slot for Palapa at 150 degrees 30 minutes east longitude, the designated space for the Indonesian satellite, to the International Telecommunications Union," he said.

The inquiry was initiated following Basuki's confession at a hearing with the commission last week that the government had neglected to re-register the slot for Palapa. Basuki admitted that potential state losses from the blunder could come to around US$7 billion.

The Palapa C-4 satellite, which was placed into geostationary orbit some 36,000 kilometers above the equator in 1996, is operated by state-owned firm PT Indosat.

The permit for the orbital slot should have been renewed by the government upon its expiration in May 2006.

Accompanying Jeffrey at the press conference, legislator Effendy Choirie of the National Awakening Party faction said the working committee aimed to discern whether government negligence was to blame for the failure to renew the orbital slot, or a conspiracy "among certain parties" to ensure the integrated defense system satellite was a catastrophe.

"The government should reveal the losses the state is suffering from the (satellite) case and find out whether Singapore's Temasek, which owns the majority of shares in Indosat, was involved in (the conspiracy)," he said.

In a previous hearing, the commission pushed the government to repurchase or nationalize Temasek's shares in Indosat citing national interests, especially those in the defense sector.

Jeffrey said the working committee would also investigate the issuance of frequency permits for radio and television stations, which the commission alleged had returned insufficient revenue to the state.

"According to reliable sources, a private TV station pays only Rp 600 million (US$66,445) for a frequency permit, while the TV station has grabbed more than Rp 2 trillion in annual profit from its advertisements," Jeffrey said, adding that frequency permits required regulation with fixed tariffs that were equally applicable to every station.

Fire takes out floors of Kemang apartments

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post) : The Marbella Kemang Residence was gutted by a fire at 1 p.m. Monday which was believed to have been caused by a compression explosion in one of the apartment's towers.

South Jakarta Fire Agency Head Feddy Alling confirmed the incident and said the fire had burnt the sixth and seventh floor in Tower B of the complex and deaths were reported.

The other tower at the complex remained untouched by the fire.

Freddy said he suspected the fire had come from welding activity on the construction site.

"We were lucky the fire did not spread to surrounding areas -- there was no thinner or painting material which would easily have spread the fire," he told news portal Detik.com.

Freddy said his office sent 16 firefighter teams to the site, and they were able to stop the fire in 30 minutes.

Separately, a marketing staffer at the Marbella, Danu, denied there was a fire blast in his office.

"It was just a problem with a compressor on the sixth floor. It was burnt and caused heavy smoke around the place," he said.

Danu said firefighters had handled the incident well.

Indonesian grounds nine airlines over safety failures

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian authorities have grounded nine airlines which failed to improve their safety record, the transport ministry said Tuesday.

Four airlines had their operating licenses revoked altogether and five others were suspended for failing to improve their safety standards over the past three months.

An official at the air transport directorate-general's office, who identified herself only as Fitri, said Jatayu Gelang Sejahtera, Aviasi Upataraksa, Alfa Trans Dirgantara and Prodexim, all of which use aircraft that carry fewer than 30 passengers, had their licences cancelled.

Those suspended were Germania Trisila Air, Atlas Delta Setia, Survey Udara Penas, Kura-kura Aviation and SMAC. They have been given three months to improve their safety standards, Fitri was quoted by Thomson Financial as saying.

The groundings follow the transport ministry's latest quarterly review of airline safety and comes after a series of accidents in Indonesia's rapidly growing airline industry.

Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia -- one of whose airplanes crashed in March, killing 22 people -- has improved its safety standards and is now ranked alone in the top category after being upgraded a tier, Fitri said.

Seven other companies were upgraded from the third and lowest category in the scale to the second, including Adam Air, which lost a jetliner on New Year's day this year with 102 people on board.

A dozen other airlines, including state-owned Merpati Nusantara, and the Indonesian subsidiary of Air Asia, remain in category two, Fitri said.

Authorities in March said after their survey that none of 20 airlines operating with capacities of more than 30 passengers were in the top safety category, and seven were in the bottom.

The seven were given three months to improve their safety rating or face closure.

Indonesia's airline industry was deregulated in the 1990s, encouraging many new operators to take to the skies and producing massive passenger growth, but the recent disasters and other accidents have raised fears of lax safety.

Experts have blamed old planes, poor standards and insufficient investment in infrastructure.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Indonesia revokes licenses of unsafe airlines

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA(AP): Indonesia has revoked the licenses of four small airlines and suspended five others as part of efforts to improve safety following a string of crashes, the Transport Ministry said Monday.

In March, the government released the results of an audit examining the safety standards of local airlines that found none of them fully complied with Civil Aviation safety regulations.

It gave those found least compliant three months to improve or have their licenses removed.

State airlines Garuda Indonesia had improved its safety record over the last three months and was now ranked in the top tier of compliance, said Budhi Suyitno, director general of air transportation at the Transport Ministry.

Four other airlines had moved up to the second tier of compliance, he said.

Suyitno said licenses for the small airlines Jatayu, Prodexim, Alfa Trans Dirgantara and Aviasi Upataraksa had been revoked.

Five other airlines had their licenses suspended, including SMAC and Kura-Kura Aviation, and have three months to improve their safety, he said.

In January this year, a plane operated by a low-cost jetliner plunged into the sea, killing all 102 people on board. Weeks later,another plane's fuselage split in half after a hard landing. And in March, a Boeing 737 careered off a runway and burst into flames, leaving 21 dead.

Choppers readied for forest fires

The Jakarta Post

PALEMBANG, South Sumatra: The South Sumatra Forestry Office says it has three helicopters prepared to fight the forest fires that are expected once the rainy season ends.

Office head Dodi Supriyadi said Thursday the three helicopters were now being used for routine checks and monitoring of the forests.

"Two of the three helicopters are hired from private companies and the other one from the police," Dodi said, adding that a fourth is expected to arrive in South Sumatra before the start of the dry season.

This fourth helicopter, which is able to carry up to 5,000 liters of water, is still awaiting approval from the Forestry Ministry, he said.

He said the three helicopters already in the province, currently stationed in Palembang and Ogan Komering Ilir, are able to carry between 600 and 700 liters of water each.

Dodi said the helicopters would be vital in putting out forest fires in their early stages, before they became too big.

Merpati plane forced back to airport

The Jakarta Post

KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara: A Merpati plane carrying 96 passengers from Maumere, on Flores island, to Kupang, on Timor island, was forced to return to Waioti airport just 10 minutes after takeoff on Saturday.

A mechanical problem caused the plane to return to the airport. According to reports the problem had to do with the plane's air-conditioning system.

The plane was on the ground for about 45 minutes for repairs, before taking off again at 5:45 p.m. local time.

Passengers say air conditioners in the cabin started blowing out hot air.

Shortly afterward, it was announced the plane was returning to Maumere due to a mechanical problem.

"We don't know why the temperature suddenly changed. We only heard the announcement that the plane had to return to Maumere," a passenger, Wilibrodus, said.

Shell targets more growth in Indonesian market

Ika Krismantari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Since the government opened Indonesia's downstream oil and gas business two years ago, the sector has attracted numerous new players interested in entering the market.

A subsidiary of oil giant Royal Dutch Shell Plc, PT Shell Indonesia was the first foreign oil giant to enter Indonesia's retail gasoline market when it opened its first gas station in Jakarta in 2005. This was made possible only after the government revoked the monopoly held by state oil and gas firm PT Pertamina over the country's non-subsidized gasoline retailing industry.

Following on the heels of Shell were Malaysian state oil and gas firm Petroliam Nasional Berhad, or Petronas, and a number of other international companies.

The Jakarta Post recently interviewed the newly appointed president director of Shell Indonesia, Darwin Silalahi, on the company's plans in the downstream sector.

Question: How do you see Indonesia's retail gasoline market following the liberalization of the sector in 2005

Answer: For major players such as Shell, the retail business is significant and a critical part of our portfolio business. We will always be looking at business opportunities in emerging markets such as Indonesia. Indonesia has always been on the radar screen of Shell and, in fact, Shell actually had a retail development team in anticipation if the government opened the market.

Indonesia, with over 220 million people, is one of the key strategic markets for Shell globally, and Shell is keen to grow its business in Indonesia. Our global retail strategy is to grow in high-growth markets, such as Indonesia.

Indonesia is a highly under-pumped market, meaning that the number of stations, compared to the population, is still too small. Compare it to Malaysia, where we are number two in the country. There, the population is between 20 and 30 million people, and they have 900 stations. Indonesia as a whole only has 3,000 plus pump stations, and that means a huge growth potential.

The government is considering opening up the entire retail market for other business players, either by easing the requirements for distributing subsidized fuels or revoking the subsidy. Your comment on this?

What we need is predictability and clarity in the way the governing regulation is implemented. This is very important for players which will be looking at investment with suitable size and a long-term time line.

The way we see it the government seems to be serious about reducing or taking out as much of the subsidy as possible from the state's budget. We hear the plan for the government is to open the market for subsidized fuel.

If there is a plan to open the subsidized fuel market, I think that will allow us to be able to serve our customers better with a broader portfolio of fuel products. And that is something that we are looking forward to doing.

What is Shell's plan to open more gas stations outside Java? Will you also be interested in placing a bid in the tender for subsidized fuel?

It's fair to say that for us Indonesia is not just about Jabotabek (Greater Jakarta). Our longer term plan will be to serve the entire country, in a way that makes sense for the customers.

Our development to be able to serve a wider section of Indonesian customers will be contingent on a few things, such as access to subsidized fuels and how quickly we roll out the plan, as well as how well customers respond to our propositions.

We need to make sure that we have the ability to adjust our propositions depending on customers' characteristics, market economics of the area, the supply chain and the regulatory framework of the area.

We don't normally disclose the next location for very obvious reasons. We need to make sure that all the products will work and are in place. We will be not talking in terms of the rate of growth of number of stations, because that is very much determined by how fast the market is being opened up.

And for joining the bids for subsidized fuel tender, we need to make sure that we are able to qualify for that tender, and the key there is distribution infrastructure. I think for us at this stage of development, there is still significant room for growth there, both in Jakarta and other locations.

Beside the gasoline business, is Shell also interested in tapping other fuel markets In Indonesia?

We love to be pioneering the opening up of the Indonesian downstream market, and Shell will also be the first to enter into the Indonesian aviation fuel industry. We have signed an agreement with Pertamina in the aviation sector (in April).

Shell is a global leader. We are serving 20,000 aircraft at 1,100 airports. We are very happy to add Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport to our portfolio of 1,100 airports.

We are also excited to hear about the government pushing strongly for the conversion of kerosene to LPG.

We are currently looking into how and when we can participate in this emerging LPG market here. After all, we too are a global leader in LPG sales.

How do you respond to plans by other major oil firms, such as Total and Chevron, to play a role in Indonesia's downstream business?

Globally, we have proven to be the world's largest retailer with more than 46,000 stations operating globally. And in a lot of markets, we have been competing head to head with some of the global companies you have mentioned, and the fact is that we are still commanding our global leadership.

Shell welcomes new competitors to the Indonesian retail space and we believe it is the customers who will eventually benefit.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Australian tourists to Bali up by 50 percent

Denpasar (ANTARA News) - The number of foreign tourists flying on Indonesia`s national flag-carrier Garuda Indonesia from Australia to Bali had increased by 50 percent in the past few months compared to last year`s.

The remark was made by Garuda Indonesia`s Operations Director Capt Ari Sapari during a dinner party held to welcome 110 Australian participants of the Mega Familiarization Tour at Novotel Nusa Dua Hotel, Badung district, on Friday evening.

Without mentioning the number of the Australian tourists to Bali, Ari Sapari said their number is only second to that of the Japanese tourists. "One thing worth noting is that Garuda flew more than eight million passengers in a year and has served the route to Australia for 38 years," Ari Sapari said.

A increasing number of Australian tourists to Bali showed that the island resort was still a paradise for tourists to spend their vacation. "We are delighted with this condition because it means better prospects for the aviation business," he said.

Two other tourist destinations in the familiarization tour are Grajakan in East Java for surfing and Jakarta for golf enthusiasts.

The participants of the Garuda Indonesia-Australia mega educational tour including three journalists were led by Garuda Indonesia General Manager for Australia and the US Suranto Yitnoprawiro.

Spokesman for the delegation Ron Moro, who is also Garuda Indonesia sales manager for western Australian region, expressed words of thanks and happiness for being able to enjoy the beauty of Bali`s nature and impressive culture.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Mandala Airlines to buy 25 Airbus A320 aircraft

Jakarta (ANTARA News/Asia Pulse) - Mandala Airlines says it will buy 25 Airbus A320 aircraft valued at US$1.9 billion to strengthen its fleet, as it faces tighter competition in Indonesia.

Mandala President Diono Nurjadin said the 180-seat aircraft will be used to serve domestic flights. "The first phase is to increase frequency of flights in routes we already serve," Nurjadin said in Paris where he attended the Paris Air Show 2007.

He said the aircraft will be delivered in phases from 2011 to 2014 and meanwhile, Mandala will lease 26-28 Airbus A320 aircraft in phases of six or eight units every year to replace old Boeing aircraft it has.

W. Jakarta houses catches fire

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA: At least 1,230 people lost their homes in a massive fire in Mangga Besar, West Jakarta, on Thursday afternoon.

As of 8 p.m. last night firemen were still trying to put out the fire among wooden houses the densely populated area.

No deaths were reported but several firemen suffered from light injuries when they tried to get closer to the fire.

The Indonesian Red Cross set up an emergency kitchen under an elevated railroad near the Jayakarta train station.

"The kitchen will start to function (Friday) morning. We'll provide three meals a day for the fire victims," said Edward Bachtiar, the head of the disaster mitigation section at the Central Jakarta chapter of the Red Cross.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Kiev offering help to set up Jakarta`s subway system


Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Kiev city administration in Ukraine has offered subway development assistance to the Jakarta city government which is planning to have a mass rapid transportation system, Kiev Deputy Mayor Sergiy Yaroslavovych Rudik said here Thursday.

Kiev which already has a subway system with 40 stations was ready to send experts to Jakarta to help Jakarta build a subway system, Rudik said after signing a memorandum of understanding on establishment of sister-city relations between Jakarta and Kiev.

The Kiev subway experts could help minimize mistakes in the selection of locations for Jakarta`s subway system, he said.

Rudik also invited Jakarta entrepreneurs to participate in several sport stadium construction projects in Kiev which would host the European Cup tournament in 2012.

Meanwhile, Jakarta Deputy Governor Fauzi Bowo who signed the MoU with Kiev said Jakarta and Kiev had intended to establish sister-city relations since 2005.

"But we have been able to realize the plan only now, in 2007," said Bowo who was impressed by the beauty of Kiev when he visited the Ukraine capital some time ago.

He said the sister-city cooperation would consist of programs to develop city transportation, city parks, small- and medium-scale businesses, culture and sports.

USAID awards Aceh highway project to S Korean, Indonesian firms


Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Thursday awarded the prime construction contract for completion of the Aceh West Coast Highway project to a partnership between South Korean and Indonesian firms.

The partnership between Ssangyong Engineering, Construction Co. Ltd. of South Korea and PT Hutama Karya of Indonesia will receive the US$108 million contract for the construction and rehabilitation of 115 km of road extending from Banda Aceh to Calang, the US Embassy said in a press statement.

The project is scheduled to be completed by February 2010.

"With this award, the Banda Aceh-Calang road project can now complete its journey from conceptualization to finalization," USAID Mission Director William M. Frej said.

Aceh bore the brunt of the December 26, 2004 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated part of the province and killed more than 200,000 people.

Adhi Karya to increase stake in Jakarta Monorail project

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - PT Adhi Karya will increase its stake in the Jakarta Monorail (JM) project from 7.65 percent to 21.83 percent gradually, a company executive said.

"JM will issue new shares. Adhi Karya will purchase in stages 250,000 shares each having a nominal value of US$100," Kurnardi Gularso, Adhi Karya`s corporate secretary, told the Jakarta Stock Exchange here Thursday.

PT Adhi Karya would thus raise the value of its investment in JM by US$ 25 million to buy 25,000 shares, he said.

PT Adhi Karya would pay $15 million to purchase JM shares in the first stage after the Jakarta Monorail company obtains a guarantee from a financial institution.

The remaining $10 million would be paid in the second phase, Kurnardi said.

The stake of ITC which currently controls 91.02 percent of JM shares would eventually drop to 12.82 percent as ITC was not taking part in the purchase of JM`s additional shares.

Garuda, Hainan Airlines sign code-sharing agreement

Wasti Atmodjo, Contributor The Jakarta Post, Sanur

National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia and China's fourth largest airline, Hainan Airlines, signed a code-sharing agreement Tuesday to strengthen their marketing positions in China and Indonesia.

Agus Priyanto, Garuda's executive vice president for sales and marketing, said Tuesday that the agreement would allow Hainan airlines to sell up to twenty seats on each Garuda's flight from Jakarta to Beijing, and vice-versa.

The agreement will come into effect in July.

According to Den Jiang, general manager of Hainan Airlines, his company would also serve Garuda passengers with connecting flights to domestic destinations in China, including Harbin, Hangzou and Nanning.

Hainan Airlines presently flies to fifty-three cities throughout China.

Garuda currently flies 16 times a week to four cities in China: Beijing (three times a week), Shanghai (four times a week), Guangzhou (four times a week) and Hong Kong (five times a week).

"Through this deal, Garuda and Hainan Airlines hope to secure bigger markets in the Chinese region and in Indonesia," Priyanto said.

In 2006, Garuda Indonesia carried over 275,000 passengers between the two countries. For this year, it expects the figure to increase to more than 300,000 passengers.

Garuda's China routes generate US$130 million from passengers and $150 million from cargo, around 25 percent of the airline's total revenue.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bad weather forces Adam Air to divert to Penang

The Jakarta Post

An Adam Air plane from Jakarta with 184 people on board was forced to land at a Malaysian airport Tuesday due to bad weather in Medan, North Sumatra, a report said.

The plane took off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at around 2:30 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive at Medan's Polonia Airport at 4:40 p.m., the detik.com news portal said.

"The plane experienced turbulence several times while flying over Polonia. The pilot then notified us that there the flight would be rerouted to Penang, Malaysia, until the weather was back to normal. Many passengers were already nervous," Rosadi, 30, one of the passengers, was quoted as saying.

He said the Boeing 737-200 later landed at Penang's Bayan Lepas Airport, where the passengers waited for an hour before the plane flew to Medan at around 8 p.m. It eventually landed safely there after 45 minutes later.

The Adam Air district manager in Medan, Bunga, confirmed the report. "The weather was so bad. Other flights were similarly delayed. We did so to save the passengers," she told detik.com. --JP

Toll road users set for emissions tests

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Toll road operator PT Citra Marga Nusaphala Persada (CMNP) plans to start testing the emission levels of private cars passing along the Sedyatmoko turnpike to Tanjung Priok on Wednesday.

The check, for which cars will be selected randomly, will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"The operator plans to assess the emissions levels of 200 private cars. It's part of CMNP's services to toll road users as the checks will be free," Yusiono Anwar, head of the air pollution unit at the Jakarta Environment Management Board, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

The cost of an emissions test ranges from Rp 30,000 (about US$3.61) to Rp 50,000 at auto garages.

The owners of cars that pass the test will be given a window sticker, but there will be no sanctions imposed on cars that do not meet the standard.

The emissions testers, which measure carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbon (HC) levels, will be placed in pits along the road to prevent congestion.

A 2005 bylaw on air pollution requires private car owners to have their cars' emissions levels tested twice a year.

The CMNP is a member of the Clean Emission Appreciation (AEB), a 50-member forum organizing emissions tests without charge.

Members of the forum, such as PT Martina Berto in Pulogadung, East Jakarta, only allow vehicles displaying an "emissions-free" sticker to enter their parking areas.

The administration has repeatedly promised to punish the owners of cars that produce emissions in excess of a healthy level, but this is yet to happen.

The administration recently pledged to fully enforce emissions tests by September, a month before Governor Sutiyoso ends his term.

"Pak Sutiyoso is to sign the gubernatorial decree on emissions testing this month, thus, we can fully enforce it in September," Yusiono said.

The city agency will also assess 200 mechanics and 100 auto workshops next week in order ease the implementation of emissions tests in the capital.

The administration plans to certify 600 technicians and 300 auto workshops this year.

Experts have said that land transportation contributes up to 70 percent of air pollution in urban areas.

More than 2.5 million private vehicles hit the city's streets every day, many of them coming from outside Jakarta.

The draft gubernatorial decree stipulates that all private cars driven in the capital, including those from Bekasi, Depok, Tangerang and Bogor, must comply with the emissions standard set by the Jakarta administration.

The State Ministry of National Development Planning predicts that regular emission tests could reduce 50 percent of the CO level, 35 percent of the HC and 45 percent of particulate matter.

It says the emission tests would also reduce fuel use by 3 to 10 percent.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pertamina says it'll brush up to compete on global scale

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

In a bid to improve its service quality, the state oil company has launched a certification program for its gas stations to enable them to compete with gas stations run by foreign operators.

"With the liberalization in the downstream industries, this sector has become more competitive due to the emergence of many new competitors," said Ari Soemarno, the CEO of Pertamina, in his speech at the launch of the Pertamina Pasti Pas certification program Saturday.

"The program aims to create an effective and efficient company so it can become one of the world's best," Ari said.

The Pasti Pas Program focuses on quality and quantity, staff, facilities and equipment, physical performance and public service.

Ari said that out of about 3,500 gas stations throughout the country, 80 had met the standard, 40 of which are in Jakarta.

"We are now focusing on the big cities first," Ari added.

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro presided over the program at a Gatot Subroto gas station in Central Jakarta.

"We believe that Pertamina will be able to conquer the challenge because we are more experienced in the domestic market," said Purnomo.

However, the program is yet to be successful.

Despite Pertamina' efforts to improve services at their gas stations, many Jakarta vehicle owners prefer foreign gasoline companies because they believe they offer better handling for car engines. engines

Motorcyclist Urip, who had just filled his motorcycle, said that although in general Pertamina's gas stations were not that bad, in some places the operators often didn't return customers' change.

For Runi, a van owner, the arrival of foreign gas stations in Jakarta was good because it provided people with more choices in finding the best for their vehicles.

"I use Shell's gas stations because I think the quality of its gasoline is better," she said.

She added that many Indonesian gas stations sold diluted fuel.

"My car is an old one, so I have to be more careful in its maintenance, although the price of gas is more expensive," said Runi, a resident of Kemanggisan.

With the passing of a law in 2001, Pertamina lost its local monopoly on oil, fuel and gas. The is meant to allow reasonable, safe and transparent foreign businesses to operate in the industry.

The country now has two foreign gas companies, Shell and Petronas, operating several gas stations in the city. Shell became the first company to enter Indonesia's fuel business in 2005. It now has 10 gas stations in Greater Jakarta.

Jakarta has at least 2.5 million private cars, four million motorcycles and 250,000 taxis and buses. The 6,750,000 vehicles consume nearly seven million liters gasoline each day.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Nestle Indonesia renews warehousing and distribution contract with GAC Samudera Logistics

AMEinfo

GAC Samudera Logistics (GSL), a joint venture between UAE-based GAC and Samudera Indonesia Group, has announced its contract renewal with Nestlé Indonesia to manage the international food and beverage company's warehousing and distribution needs in the country.

Nestle has a long-standing relationship with GAC, going back to over a decade ago in the Middle East when GAC built the first third party logistics facility in the Gulf, now a fully-fledged GAC Logistics Park - from which GAC is still handling Nestle's regional supply chain requirements today.

Under the continuing arrangement, GSL will manage Nestlé's West Java, South Sumatra and West Kalimantan storage and inventory management requirements. As Nestlé has witnessed substantial volume growth and increasing distribution complexities since the existing agreement started in June 2005, GSL is now preparing for a more extensive scope of work for the global brand.

GSL Managing Director Kaare Thuesen says this new long-term exclusive contract is a boost to GSL's expanding logistics operations. The company recently invested USD4.4 million to expand its state-of-the art multi-user distribution centre in Lippo Cikarang in the Bekasi district, east of Jakarta. The extended facility will occupy a total of 9,000 square metres and offer an additional 12,000 pallet positions, increasing the current pallet capacity to 34,000.

He adds: 'We are confident that our expanded facilities at the distribution centre in Lippo Cikarang, coupled with our proven warehouse management techniques and advanced IT capabilities, will enable us to enhance Nestlé's supply chain and allow us to play an even bigger role in supporting their planned business growth.'

Nestlé Indonesia's Supply Chain Director, Wisman Djaja says: 'The Distribution Centre is strategic to our business. It is one of the key enablers for Nestlé Indonesia in its endeavour to provide the best service to its valuable customers. Most of our fast-growing modern channel customers are served from this DC. I am happy to see that GSL has been investing in training and development to grow talent, an important complementary to its excellent infrastructure. After all, talented employees set a company apart from its peers.'

Indonesia extends visa facility to 11 countries

The Hindu

Jakarta, June 17 (Xinhua): Indonesia has extended the visa on arrival (VOA) facility to 11 more countries, and is considering giving the facility to another 11 countries in an attempt to woo foreign tourists, local media reported on Saturday.

The 11 countries includes Algeria, the Czech Republic, Fiji, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Panama, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Tunisia.

The Directorate General of Immigration announced Friday that based on a Justice and Human Rights Ministry decree, beginning on May 28, 2007, citizens from a total of 63 countries will enjoy visa on arrival.

"The extension of the visa on arrival facility is aimed at raising the frequency of visits by foreign tourists," the immigration office said in a statement.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kristiarto Soeryo Legowo said the government was now studying the possibility of extending the facility to 11 additional countries to allow more tourists and investors to come to Indonesia.

"So, there will be 74 countries that receive the visa on arrival facility soon, pending a decree from the Justice and Human Rights Ministry. We hope more foreigners will come to Indonesia," he was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying.

He refused to identify the 11 additional countries. The visa on arrival was first introduced on Feb. 21, 2004.

Under the system, tourists from selected countries do not have to apply abroad for a visa but can purchase a visa on arrival at Indonesia's international airports and seaports. A seven-day visa costs 10 U.S. dollars, while a 30-day visa costs 25 U.S. dollars.

Indonesia's tourist arrival numbers dropped by 2.61 percent to 4.87 million in 2006 from 5 million in 2005.

The government said extending the visa on arrival facility was expected to raise tourist numbers to 6 million in 2007.

Amex cardholders to get eyes opened at airport

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Holders of American Express goldcards issued by Bank Danamon can now benefit from an eye-scanning facility when passing through immigration at Jakarta's Sukarno Hatta International Airport.

Cardholders will only need to insert iris-data cards and have theirs eyes scanned by a scanning device, which will match the data on the card and with the person's iris.

"This facility is very efficient as passengers no longer have to fill out embarkation forms, or get their passports stamped. They only need to have their irises scanned," said director of Angkasa Pura Schiphol Djoko Santoso during the signing of the collaboration agreement for the facility with Bank Danamon on Thursday.

The eye scanning process, called automatic border passage, will replace manual passport checking, which can take an average of around 20 minutes.

Automatic border passage is part of the Saphire program designed by PT Angkasa Pura Schiphol, a joint venture between PT Angkasa Pura II, the operator of Soekarno Hatta, and the Netherlands-based Schiphol Group.

The holders of Amex gold cards can use the Saphire program for free during the first year, but will have to pay US$180 annually in subsequent years. They can also enjoy other Saphire program perks, including special parking facilities, and exclusive security gates and check-in counters for Saphire customers.

Bank Danamon vice president Subba Vaidyanathan said that the Saphire program was a commercial initiative designed to provide more benefits for Amex gold cardholders, who were often frequent fliers.

"Most of our Amex cardholders are businesspeople that need efficiency when traveling. We believe that the Saphire program will satisfy them as it offers not only time savings, but also an exclusive services," said Subba.

Djoko said that the installation of eye-scanning machines was part of its commitment to making Sukarno Hatta a world-class international airport.

Angkasa Pura Schiphol has invested around Rp 2 billion ($222,200) on installing automatic border passage equipment. The necessary technology was developed by the Schiphol Group, which has been working together with Angkasa Pura II since 1996.

Automatic border passage has been functioning since December last year and has so far facilitated around 1,500 regular travelers. Those interested in availing of the Saphire program should apply at the Saphire service center located in Soekarno-Hatta's terminal 2-F. The service costs $200 per year, and the registration process takes around 20 minutes, including iris data recording and verification of travel documents.