Indonesia eyes aviation boom

The Indonesian aviation industry is forecasting double-digit passenger growth for 2018 due to rising demand.
Transport Ministry aviation boss Bintang Hidayat said he expected air passenger numbers to rise by 29.6 per cent to 140 million next year. There were 108 million passengers expected for 2017. This year’s figure marks a 12.5-per-cent increase from 2016.
Last week Transport Ministry airports director general Agus Santoso said the number of Christmas passengers at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport rose by 15 per cent to 221,652, compared to 192,373 last year for the corresponding period. Bali and Makassar in South Sulawesi were the most popular destinations.
Agus said tourists departing for Bali rose by 29 per cent from last Christmas.
Indonesia has set a 5.4-per-cent overall economic growth target after exceeding 5 per cent in the third quarter of 2017.
Bayu Sutanto of the Indonesian National Air Carriers Association (Inaca) said he expected aviation industry growth to be 2.5 times economic expansion across Indonesia. The archipelago’s 17,500-odd islands make air travel an attractive prospect.
Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia this week started operating direct flights to the island of Wakatobi, Southeast Sulawesi, from the provincial capital, Kendari.
Wakatobi is popular among tourists as one of the best diving destinations in the world with the largest barrier reef in the archipelago and 942 species of fish and 750 of coral.
Sutanto said the April 2019 presidential election would also generate extra traffic.
“We are optimistic. Next year is the political year, so there will be a lot of people [flying],” Sutanto said. He predicted that growth would exceed this year’s 12-per-cent expansion, adding that the archipelago’s airports needed to be expanded.
Soekarno-Hatta International in Jakarta, Indonesia’s largest airport, has a capacity of around 43 million passengers next year while it undergoes a major terminal expansion programme with plans to add a third runway.
Soekarno-Hatta’s train, which connects several Jakarta stations to the airport, started its operation yesterday (Wednesday) at a promotional fare of Rp30,000 (US$2.2) until January, when the price will go to Rp70,000, according to the operator.
Inaca has raised concerns over the base fare for economy flights, which the government has not increased despite rising operational costs.
The group has suggested an increase of the base fare, from 30 per cent of the ceiling fare for each route to 40 per cent, to offset rising fuel costs and the rupiah’s erratic exchange value.

Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airport is due to be expanded. Picture credit: Wikimedia