Saudis consider banning Indonesia from airspace

Saudi Arabia is considering banning Indonesian airlines from its airspace, but is first reviewing the flight safety record of the world's most populous Muslim country, officials said Tuesday. Dozens of airlines certified in Indonesia were blocked recently from flying to the European Union following a string of accidents, which also prompted the US Federal Aviation Authority to downgrade the country's rating to its lowest category. Saudi Arabia - which welcomes more than 160,000 Indonesian air travelers annually for the religious pilgrimage to Mecca - usually follows the lead of the EU, said Indonesian Transportation Minister Jusman Syafi'ie Djamal. "But this time they want clarification," he said, adding that officials want to hear directly about safety standards at Indonesia's flag-carrier Garuda, which flies to Saudi Arabia eight times a week. "We will meet with Saudi Arabian authorities soon."