JAKARTA, Indonesia AirAsia is considering adding three more destinations to its Malaysia-Indonesia route, said AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes.
“We’re currently in talks for Belitung, and also looking at Banyuwangi and Raja Ampat,” he told media after announcing flights from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (klia2) to Silangit Airport in Tapanuli, North Sumatra.
Fernandes said the low-cost carrier is very bullish about Indonesia, noting it is a huge market for the group.
According to the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism, 25 per cent of international tourists currently come to Indonesia via AirAsia Group.
Fernandes said guests travelling to and from Indonesia can leverage on AirAsia’s Fly-Thru service for seamless transit in the Kuala Lumpur hub to over 22 international destinations.
“We’re adding more planes. Jakarta itself has a tremendous potential for secondary and tertiary destinations.
“It can be as big as Bangkok as a tourist destination,” he said, adding that the group is also looking at creating new businesses such as partnering with cruise services.
Besides Silangit, AirAsia flies 21 routes from Malaysia to 15 other destinations in Indonesia namely Jakarta, Lombok, Pekanbaru, Surabaya, Bali, Medan, Padang, Semarang, Banda Aceh, Pontianak, Yogyakarta, Palembang, Bandung, Makassar and Solo.
He said in addition to building new airports, Indonesia is also converting Terminal 2 at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport into a low-cost carrier terminal.
“We believe this is a step in the right direction and we will continue to fully support the Tourism Ministry to achieve 20 million tourist arrivals by 2019,” he said.
The country is targeting 17 million tourist arrivals this year.
Meanwhile, Fernandes said AirAsia is also looking at opening its hub in Silangit as the airport expands and the city infrastructure progresses.
Prior to Silangit Airport, travellers wishing to visit Lake Toba had to take a six-hour bus ride from Medan.
Today, they can fly direct to Silangit from Kuala Lumpur and reach Lake Toba in just an hour, he said.
Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said he is confident the new services will boost tourist arrivals in Lake Toba, which has been identified as one of Indonesia’s 10 priority tourism destinations.
“We are currently upgrading the facilities at Silangit Airport and extending the runway length from 2,650 metres to 3,000 metres.
“We are also expanding the apron and terminal building to accommodate more aircraft and passengers. We hope this new route will benefit the economy and community,” he said.
Source: NAM News Network