Indonesia needs to urgently increase the capacity at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta aiport to meet the fast growing demand for air travel in the country, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Traffic at the airport, Indonesia's main gateway, reached 43.7 million passengers in 2010. But this has surpassed the 38 million capacity that the airport will have when its Terminal 3 becomes fully operational in 2012, said IATA.

"A solution is urgently needed. Without sufficient capacity in Jakarta, Indonesia risks missing the economic benefits that should accompany ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) liberalisation in the coming years," said IATA's Director General and CEO, Tony Tyler in a statement.

A further upgrade to the airport's capacity is on the cards, but there is also an ongoing debate in Indonesia on whether the city needs a greenfield airport as well to meet the demand.

Insufficient air traffic management is potential bottleneck as well, said Tyler.

"IATA is providing technical assistance for more effective use of the airspace in the Jakarta area but full implementation is as yet uncertain," he added.

Safety is another concern, with Indonesia recording 33 accidents between 2005 and 2010. While Indonesia accounts for 1.4% of global air traffic, it had 4% of all accidents in 2010, said IATA.

Tyler acknowledged that efforts have been made to improve Indonesia's safety record. as indicated by the removal of five of its carriers from Europe's list of banned airlines in 2010 and 2011.

He urged Jakarta to mandate the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) for its carriers and the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) at its airports to better manage ground safety.

"Now we need a coordinated initiative by all stakeholders to solve the safety issue once and for all and restore confidence in all of Indonesia's airlines," he added.

Between 2010 and 2014, Indonesia is expected to be the sixth fastest growing market for international passengers. In 2014, Indonesia will rank as the ninth largest domestic market and among the top 10 for international freight.

"The potential for aviation in Indonesia is enormous. Alongside its significant domestic traffic, its location at the heart of Southeast Asia gives this market tremendous potential," said Tyler.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news