Raising Airline Ticket Price: Will It Guarantee the Safety?

Before starting to write this article, my deep condolence is to the victim of Air Asia QZ 8501 airlines. My prayer is also for the families who are in deep grief because of this incident. Moreover, I do also pray for all the people involved in rescue operation will be blessed with strength and persistence in continuing their effort

It is indeed very interesting to follow the news relating to the missing QZ 8501 airlines in Indonesia. It is not because the feature news that try to uncover non-mainstream news especially relating to the victims’ families. But more importantly, it is because how people in Indonesia and also Indonesia Government itself have to deal with the issue.

Just recently there was a statement coming out from Ignasius Jonan, Indonesia Transportation Minister, saying that he is going to announce that low cost carrier (LCC) airlines in Indonesia should have a minimum ticket price at least 40% from the maximum price allowed. As usual, there is pro and contra side regarding this policy.

For those who support the policy may argue that unreasonable ticket price –which is very cheap- should be paid by reduction in safety. This argument is reasonable since there is actually a minimum cost that should be paid for an airline to maintain its performance and especially its safety. Thus, if an airline wants to offer cheap ticket price, it should have made a rational calculation about this matter. Not giving a snack or perhaps paying the ticket price in advance so the company can invest the money in the future are some tricks that can be used to handle this issue. However, it may also be the case that the airline is still not able to cover all of the expenditures and then try to further reduce the “standard” service that should have been covered by the ticket price, especially safety. Thus, simple logic simply says that by maintaining the lowest price allowed for any airlines, there should have been sufficient amount of revenue for the companies to cover all of the “standard” expenditure.

On the other hand, for those who are against this policy may argue that it has nothing to do with the ticket price. They may suggest that each airline has its own policies how to deal with the ticket price. Thus, they assume that unreasonable cheap ticket price is part of the marketing strategies of the company to attract more costumer to use its airline. Furthermore, there is also an argument saying that such a policy is only an exclusive one since it starts to bar low-income people to have flying experience and thus only allowing people with sufficient amount of money to have the experience.

In this globalized world, people who have dwelled in business can no longer neglect the globalization factor and the importance to increase competitiveness. This is why LCC comes in airlines business because otherwise there will be no competition and people can gain no benefit since monopoly can occur or airlines may arbitrarily increase the ticket price. Thus, cheap ticket price is indeed desirable since it can enhance companies’ competitiveness in giving service. Thus, Mr. Jonan’s statement is still right in this matter since he did not say anything about eliminating the LCC. But, how about the price?

In this respect, regardless of the pro-contra side on this policy, I think the most important thing is to tighten the safety regulation. It is undoubtedly useless to determine exactly what is the lowest price allowed as long as the safety regulation in aviation industry is not complied. There is still a possibility that by increasing the ticket price, the airlines’ boss might say that this is their opportunity to reap more financial benefit without have to improve the safety standard. Who cares with this matter? People will only be then deceived by the ticket price assuming that they already get the “standard” service as dictated by the regulation but in fact they receive nothing. There are too many loopholes in this area and the most severe one is corruption. Thus, as long as people who are responsible in upholding aviation law can still be easily bribed or they just corrupt their time by not having regular inspection to the airlines’ companies, for example, increasing ticket price will only lead to nothing except putting more burden to Indonesians and exacerbating corrupt behavior. As currently disputed about the schedule for the QZ 8501 airlines, this then clearly shows how there are still many irregularities and inconsistencies in the Indonesian aviation industry. This is the thing that should be actually improved.

The reason behind this soon-to-be policy is indeed a good one. Setting the price to guarantee there is sufficient amount of money available for planes’ maintenance is indeed reasonable. However, this should go hand in hand by preserving and strengthening the safety regulation so consumer will be satisfied with the price they pay. And perhaps I will give last statement for the costumer. It is very important to have strict safety standard in aviation industry and this is the pay that we should pay. Thus, never sacrifice your safety in order to have low ticket price. What we have to do is to ensure that the airlines companies really comply with the safety issue and thus we can feel safe in flying and this is our homework together with the Indonesian Government so the airline industry cannot arbitrarily play with price and safety.