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A Garuda Indonesia Airbus A330-200 (Photo: byeangel from Tsingtao, China (Garuda Indonesia Airlines Airbus A330-243 PK-GPI) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Garuda Indonesia Set to Launch Nonstop Flight to Bali from U.S., France and India

The Indonesian flag carrier Garuda Indonesia is slated to launch nonstop flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris, New Delhi and Mumbai to the country’s tourism hotspot Bali. The plan was unveiled after the Governor of Bali announced on Monday that the island would open its doors to international tourists as of Sept. 11, 2020.

The airline is working on the plan with the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises and Ministry of Tourism, according to Garuda President Irfan Setiaputra.

“Garuda and the Tourism Ministry have agreed that the only way to boost foreign tourist visits is by introducing direct flights to Bali. Hopefully, we can make it through this crisis and start direct flights from countries that have large spending capabilities,” said the President of the airline.

The relevant ministries are looking to set Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport as the major tourist entry point in the long run. Indonesia is also planning to build a new airport on the island of Bali in a bid to boost tourism in the country. Jakarta International Airport (Soekarno-Hatta International Airport) is currently Indonesia’s main airport providing connections to the country’s popular touristic islands.

Although the world’s major airlines like Emirates, KLM, Qantas, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines operate direct flights from their hubs to Bali, there are currently no non-stop service from the U.S. and France to the island.

Bali Looks to Get More Share from Tourism Market

Travelers from Paris planning to fly to Bali mostly transit in Thailand’s capital Bangkok. American tourists likewise have to transit in a city that provides a direct connection to the island. Tourists spend much more money in transit countries, which limits their holiday budget, according to Garuda President.

“So if we plan to open a new flight route, we will focus on, for example, flights from Paris to Bali directly,” said the airline President.

He continued to state: “We’ll also fit the schedule to accommodate tourists with morning arrivals and evening departures, so they can spend most of their time on the island.”

Indonesian authorities say that American and European tourists’ spending powers are far greater than tourists from some other countries and they also stay longer, on average 2 weeks. Therefore, Garuda Indonesia intends to schedule flights that can attract tourists who will potentially bring in more revenue for Bali tourism.

“In the future, we will focus on more direct flights from and to Bali and with a suitable time for tourists to land before noon and depart at night so that they can spend their funds between check-out from the hotel and departure at the airport,” said the airline President.

Tourism, the most important source of revenue and foreign exchange in Bali, has been hit hard by pandemic-related travel restrictions and lockdowns. During the pre-pandemic period, more than 4 million tourists visited the island annually. Bali International Airport saw an approximately 100% slump in international tourist arrivals in May compared to the same period last year, according to Bali statistics bureau data.

The Indonesian flag carrier Garuda Indonesia suspended flight operations in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline was forced to ground 100 of its 142 aircraft, resulting in a 70% reduction in flights. The Indonesian Government also banned all commercial flights and foreigners from entering the country in a bid to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The airline resumed domestic flights on May 7 after the Indonesian Government eased the flight restrictions. The ban on international flights was also lifted with strict regulations in June.

Travelers flying to Bali have to present a COVID-19 PCR test with negative results or undergo a test at the airport. Passengers who take the test at the airport also have to undergo a quarantine while waiting for the result at locations set by Indonesian authorities.

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Bulent Imat
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