Lion's Batik Air, Garuda to start new routes to Australia

Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - The Indonesian and Australian governments have renewed a bilateral air service agreement (ASA), allowing carriers from both nations to increase the frequency of connections between cities in the two countries this year, the Transportation Ministry announced on Friday.

The agreement was signed by Transportation Minister E.E. Mangindaan and Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Anthony Albanese in Canberra, Australia, on Thursday.

Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang S. Ervan said that the agreement would allow more slots from Jakarta; Denpasar, Bali; Makassar, South Sulawesi; Medan, North Sumatra; and Surabaya, East Java to Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, and vice versa.

Through the renewed ASA, Indonesia and Australia are committed to providing 2,500 new seats per week, increasing total flight service to 27,500 seats a week.

"We believe that this agreement will provide benefits for both countries, especially in the aviation sector as it gives more room for Indonesia's and Australia's airlines and air cargo companies to grow," Bambang said.

"We hope they take this opportunity to enter every point that we allow through this agreement."

Apart from those cities, he said that Indonesia and Australia did not limit seat capacity, frequency or type of aircraft flying to destinations in the two countries.

He also said that both governments expected to see positive impacts on its trade and tourism sectors after carriers began tapping into the opportunity.

National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia and the country's largest low-cost carrier, Lion Air's subsidiary Batik Air, are planning to fly to Australia this year.

Garuda is going to connect Jakarta and Brisbane in the second half of the year after it receives a new Boeing B737-800 Next Generation (NG).

Meanwhile, Batik Air plans to fly from East Nusa Tenggara's Kupang to Darwin and from Denpasar to Adelaide, South Australia.

The minister said that Lion Air president director Rusdi Kirana had announced the routes to Indonesian senior officials including Indonesian Ambassador to Australia Nadjib Riphat on the sidelines of the signing ceremony.

Batik expects to commence its operations in May with the use of Boeing B737-900 Extended Range (ER) aircraft.

It obtained its flight permit (SIUAU) in September last year and has obtained approval to fly 66 domestic and 20 international routes.

It is currently processing its Air Certificate Operator (AOC).

In addition, he said that traffic between the two countries grew 13 per cent to more than 2 million passengers last year.

Currently, air slots between Indonesia and Australia are mostly used by Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia AirAsia, Australian Qantas Airways, Jetstar and Pacific Blue, in addition to a few chartered carriers. Their routes include Denpasar-Adelaide, Denpasar-Perth, Denpasar-Sydney, Denpasar-Melbourne and Jakarta-Sydney.

During the ceremony in Canberra, Australia also stated its commitment to improve aviation safety by working with the ministry's air transportation director general to develop tropical mountainous terrain flying operation training.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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