Jakarta: Indonesia's accident-plagued aviation industry has more airlines with the lowest safety ranking than any other country in the world according to an annual survey.
The plane safety rating website AirlineRatings.com surveyed 407 of the world's major airlines, giving each a safety score out of seven.
Of the 10 airlines that scored just one point or less, all but one was from Indonesia. Qantas was ranked the world's safest airline for the third year in a row.
The rating system takes into account factors including audits from aviation's governing bodies and lead associations as well as government audits and the airline's fatality record.
There were multiple plane crashes in Indonesia in 2015, several involving loss of life. In December the previous year, 162 people were killed when an Indonesia AirAsia plane en route to Singapore ditched into the Java sea.
"Australians need to exercise extreme caution when travelling to and around Indonesia and ensure they choose an airline that meets world standards," says AirlineRatings.com editor Geoffrey Thomas.
"Aviation is critical to the economic development of Indonesia yet the government appears unwilling or incapable of meeting its international obligations by upgrading its oversight of its airline industry," he said.
"Also many Indonesian airports don't meet international standards while navigation aids in some locations don't work or are sub optimal."
Indonesian ministry of transport spokesman J. A. Barata questioned the validity of the research and rankings. He said Merpati Airlines was listed by AirlineRatings when it had not been operating for some time. Merpati Airlines, which had a "rating pending" status on the website, suspended flights in February 2014 due to falling revenue according to the Jakarta Globe.
Mr Barata also said Malaysia Airlines received quite a high safety ranking (five out of seven) despite a couple of major accidents.
Most of Indonesia's airlines are banned from flying within the European Union. Garuda Indonesia, which has passed many tough operational audits and was given a safety rating of three by AirlineRatings, is a notable exception to the EU ban.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has also certified Garuda Indonesia and AirAsia to operate flights between Australia and Indonesia, according to the Australian government website smarttraveller.gov.au
However the website says Australian officials in Indonesia have been directed not to use airline Susi Air for official travel after fatal crashes in 2011 and 2012.
Susi Air is not one of the carriers ranked by AirlineRatings.com and the safety rating for Indonesia AirAsia is pending.
The Australian government website also says the United States Federal Aviation Administration has determined that Indonesia's Directorate General of Civil Aviation is not in compliance with international safety standards for the oversight of Indonesia's air carrier operations.
Last year a Twin Otter from the small regional airline Aviastar crashed in Sulawesi in October, killing all 10 on board.
In August a plane operated by Trigana Air Service – which received a 0 in the AirlineRatings safety score – crashed in remote Papua with 54 fatalities.
A Hercules aircraft belonging to the Indonesian Air Force crashed in Medan in June, killing more than 100 passengers on board and more than 20 people on the ground.
Indonesia's biggest budget carrier Lion Air has also been in the news after police announced on Monday that four employees had been arrested on suspicion of stealing from passengers' luggage in the hull.
And in November a Lion Air pilot was reportedly grounded for allegedly offering a female, divorced flight attendant to passengers to make up for the delay.
The airlines awarded the lowest safety rating by Airlineratings.com
Trigana Air Service – Indonesia
Batik Air – Indonesia
Citilink – Indonesia
Kalstar Aviation – Indonesia
Lion Air – Indonesia
Sriwijaya Air – Indonesia
Tara Air – Nepal
TransNusa Air Services – Indonesia
Wings Air – Indonesia
Xpress Air – Indonesia
Twenty Safest Airlines for 2016
Air New Zealand
All Nippon Airlines
Cathay Pacific Airways
Scandinavian Airline System