International Flights Return to Bali

            Indonesian, Singaporean and Australian airlines have set plans to resume international direct flights to Bali after the government further reopened the island’s borders, addressing a key challenge in efforts to boost economic recovery in the tourist-dependent province. Flagship carrier Garuda Indonesia initiated the opening by resuming its weekly flights from Narita International Airport in Japan to I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali on Feb, 3.

I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport spokesperson Taufan Yudhistira said the Garuda flight was the first international regular flight to land on the island after nearly two years since Indonesia’s border closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “There are some other regular flights that have plans to land in Bali, including Garuda from Haneda Airport in Japan,” he said. He went on to say that Garuda would fly from Japan to Bali every Thursday.

The government has allowed Bali to receive international direct flights from 19 countries since October last year but demand has been lackluster, with Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno saying that not a single such flight had been scheduled to the island province until January this year. The absence of international flights was a major roadblock in Bali’s tourism recovery plans as foreign tourists generally spend more than domestic tourists and contribute more toward hotel occupancy rates. International travelers who wanted to go to Bali had to take the costly option of flying and quarantining in either Jakarta or Manado before taking a domestic flight to Bali.

Latest Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data show that Bali’s gross regional product contracted 2.91 percent annually in the third quarter of last year as foreign tourist arrivals plummeted from 36 individuals to zero over the same period. As such, the government announced that it would shorten the mandatory quarantine period to five days from seven starting Feb. 4 for travelers with two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. The government also reopened Bali to international travelers from all countries.

Singapore Airlines has announced that it would start regular direct flights to Bali starting Feb. 16. Meanwhile, Sandiaga said that Emirates and Qatar Airways were among the next batch of airlines that would fly passengers to Bali. Australian low-cost carrier Jetstar has scheduled to commence flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Bali from March 1, while Qantas Airways also plans to open the same route beginning March 28.

Feb 07, 2022, The Jakarta Post