I recently read an article by a well respected political and aviation observer in Indonesia. I guess whenever an Indonesia vs Malaysia topic comes up, it won’t take long for someone to pour gasoline to the bonfire!
Before we start, what is a 5th Freedom Right? 

Fifth Freedom of the air is the right to fly between two foreign countries during flights while the flight originates or ends in one’s own country. 

In the current round of bilateral negotiations between Indonesia and Malaysia, each country agrees to open up 3 airports for onward 5th Freedom Rights where:
  • Indonesia is to allow, through Jakarta, Makassar, and Bali:
    • 5th Freedom for Malaysian carriers operating to Australia, with a combined maximum of 7 return trips a week.
  • Malaysia is to allow, through Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, and Kota Kinabalu:
    • 5th Freedom for Indonesian carriers operating to:
    • Asia, with a combined maximum of 36 return trips a week
    • Europe, with a combined maximum of 14 return trips a week.
    • Middle East, with a combined maximum of 21 return trips a week
    • United States, with a combined maximum of 14 return trips a week.
By the looks of it, it looks like that we got a total bargain! We give 7 return flights, and gain 85 frequencies in return! So why are the blind nationalists complaining?
Their gripe: “Oh they got big places like Makassar and Bali, and we got little places like Kuching and Kinabalu”. “We should have got Penang, then it would be fair!”. “We should get Penang, and give them places no one wants to fly to, then it’s fair”.
Did anyone notice, that neither 2 countries got the 2nd biggest markets? Well, they didn’t get Surabaya, and we didn’t get Penang.
Facts for 2010:
  • Kuala Lumpur: 34,087,636 passengers, 244,179 movements and 697,015 tons of cargo.
  • Kuching: 3,684,000 passengers, 46,382 movements, and 26,977 tons of cargo.
  • Kinabalu: 5,223,000 passengers, and 55,241 movements.
  • Jakarta: 43,704,000 passengers, 338,711 movements, and 633,391 tons of cargo.
  • Denpasar: 11,006,359 passengers, 84,252 movements, and 67,760 tons of cargo.
  • Makassar: 4,938,468 passengers, 64,495 movements, and 39,620 tons of cargo.
Sure, CGK + DPS + UPG is bigger than KUL + KCH + BKI, but which one is more promising? Remember, Malaysia’s 5th Freedom is limited to Australia, but Indonesia’s getting those freedoms to Asia, Middle East, Europe and the US.
Many of these so-called blind-nationalists also forget that Indonesia usually give automatic 5th Freedom Rights to Australia anyways, and Malaysia wants passengers to flow through their airports and give generous 5th Freedom Rights.
They also forget or conveniently ignore, that 7x weekly 5th Freedom to Malaysia, or other ASEAN nations, is nothing new!
  • Malaysia Airlines did fly KUL-CGK-MEL until recently, and the route was closed because of low demand on the CGK-MEL segment (and therefore easier and more profitable to just go KUL-MEL direct).
  • Thai Airways also flew BKK-CGK-SYD, and the route was closed as passenger levels didn’t pick up and mainly due to the 98 Asian financial crisis.
The also forget that Indonesia usually give 5th Freedom Rights to Australian carriers to go onto other ASEAN destinations.
  • Ansett’s SYD-CGK-KUL was quite popular with Australians, Malaysians and Indonesians alike, then closed with the 98 Asian financial crisis. 
  • Qantas for many years flew: 
    • SYD-CGK-SIN where the CGK-SIN portion was mainly to feed OneWorld alliance passengers to/from Singapore. 
    • SYD/MEL-DPS-SIN for the same reasons. 
  • In both cases, CGK/DPS-SIN passenger numbers fell steadily over the years as OneWorld passengers preferred to fly using the interline agreement between Qantas, British Airways and Finnair, with Garuda, Singapore Airlines, and Thai (who flew BKK-SIN-CGK), plus Cathay Pacific’s previous HKG-SIN-CGK usually fly a few BA/QF passengers just arriving in Singapore from Europe, to Jakarta.
Now, how can Indonesian carriers use this new bilateral agreement? Garuda might want to do CGK-KUL-Europe, or secondary routes to India or Middle East via KUL (which Malaysia Airlines carry a lot of Indonesian bound/origin passengers).
I do wish that these blind nationalists would stop churning out rubbish, and I wish that respectable observers and analysts (who wrote the article that made me write this), use a little common sense!

Leave a Reply