Sunday, 28th May 2017

Airlines expand domestic flights in eastern regions

14th April 2017 | 2.221 Views
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A 70-seater ATR-72-600 aircraft that took off from the Pattimura International Airport in Maluku Province, Wednesday, landed at West Papua Provinces Utarom Airport at 9:40 a.m. local time.

The arrival of the aircraft was welcomed by West Papua regional government officials and local residents with a traditional dance performance.

The aircraft took off from the Pattimura Airport an hour and 25 minutes earlier and was seen off by Vice President for Region IV of state-owned airlines Garuda Indonesia Sentot Mujiono, Deputy Chairman of Commission V of the House of Representatives, and Assistant I of the Maluku Regional Government Angky Renyaan.

It was a maiden flight by Garuda Indonesia that has opened new routes from Maluku Province to West Papua serving several regions in Indonesias two eastern provinces.

The eastern regions of the country have, so far, been less developed as compared to their western counterparts, thus creating disparities in economic development and advancement. Yet, of late, the government has shifted its attention to also advance development in the eastern provinces of the country.

This has prompted several airlines to start new domestic flights such as what was done by Garuda Indonesia on Wednesday. The carrier is taking anticipatory steps in order to benefit from future economic development.

Lately, airlines, such as Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia Air Transport, Batik Air, and Wings Air, have aggressively started new domestic flights to expand services on routes in eastern Indonesian provinces and regions, such as Sulawesi, Maluku, and Papua.

Batik Air of the Lion Group, for instance, is planning to open a new route from Jakarta to Jayapura, with transit points in Makassar in South Sulawesi and Timika in Papua.

The regional government of Mimika District, Papua, lauded Batik Airs plan to also open flight services to the Mozes Kilangin Aiport in Timika, the district capital of Mimika.

Transportation Service Head of Mimika John Rettob noted in Timika that apart from Batik Air, other airlines, such as Wing Air, also part of the Lion Air Group, are planning to operate flights to Timika.

"Wings Air has long planned to start new flights to serve the Wamena-Timika, Nabire-Timika, and Tual-Kaimana-Timika routes, while Batik Air is planning to start flights on the Jakarta-Makassar-Timika-Jayapura route and a direct fight from Jakarta to Timika," Rettob remarked.

Last month, Wings Air had also opened a new flight route from Manado to Miangas, Talaud Island, North Sulawesi.

"For the time being, we fly once a week on Sunday to Mingas Island," Operations Director of Wings Air Redi Irawan stated.

During the maiden flight, Wings Air served the Manado-Melonguane-Miangas-Melonguane-Manado route using an ATR-72-600 aircraft.

Wings Air is also planning to open new flights to serve the Ternate-Labuha route in North Maluku Province. The new route will cover Ternate and Labuha to meet the publics demand for air transportation.

"According to the schedule, Wings Air will operate additional return flights on the Ternate-Labuha route in North Maluku. The first flight had departed on March 26, 2017," Ronani Sjarif, the acting head of the Oesman Sadik Airport of Labuha, remarked.

The routes will be served by Wings Airs ATR-72-500-600 series aircraft having a capacity to accommodate 72 passengers.

Garuda Indonesia, which has opened new flight routes from Ambon in Maluku Province to Manokwari-Nabire in West Papua on Wednesday, plans to expand its domestic flights from Manado and other regions in North Sulawesi to Palu and Luwuk in Central Sulawesi.

"This year, we will open new air links from Manado to various regions," Garuda Head for Manado Donald Jerry Rieuwpassa had said in Manado last month (Mar 13).

He stated that the new routes will cover Sangihe, Talaud in North Sulawesi, Morotai in North Maluku, Palu and Luwuk in Central Sulawesi, as well as other regions. For the new routes, Garuda will operate the ATR-72-600 aircraft and Bombardier aircraft.

In its maiden flight from Maluku to West Papua on Wednesday (April 12), Garuda Indonesia used the ATR72-600 type aircraft with 70-seat capacity. It made the maiden flight to serve the Ambon - Kaimana route, which would continue to Manokwari and then return to Ambon.

Garuda will serve the Ambon - Kaimana route on Monday and Saturday; the Ambon - Maonkwari route on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and the Ambon - Nabire route on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, he pointed out.

In the meantime, private airlines Indonesia Air Transport will operate regular flights on the route between Makassar, South Sulawesi, and Bungku, Morowali District, in Central Sulawesi.

The inaugural flight was scheduled on Wednesday (March 22) but was canceled, as the airport operation certificate had not been issued by the Ministry of Transportation, Head of Morowalis Transportation Office Harsono Lamusa stated when contacted via cell phone, last month.

According to the plan, Indonesia Air Transport will serve flights on the Bungku-Makassar route six times a week, with ticket prices ranging between Rp800 thousand and Rp1.3 million.

The flights will be operated using an ATR-42 aircraft, as the Maleo Bungkus airport runway is only 1,050 meters in length. "It is expected that next year, the airport will be able to accommodate aircraft, with larger capacity, as we are now extending the runway," Lamusa remarked.

The transportation official said that his side was now extending the runway by 400 meters, so that next year, it will be 1,450 meters long.

Morowali District is the largest nickel producing area in Central Sulawesi. In addition, the palm oil industry, marine products, and marine tourism hold immense potential. However, it is difficult to reach the district via modes of land and sea transportation.

With regular flights operating on the Bungku-Makassar route, people, investors, and tourists will have wider access to Morowali and North Morowali and will help accelerate economic growth and boost welfare of the people in the two districts, according to Lamusa.(*)