DENPASAR ~ National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has said revised Bali flight schedules will boost tourism to the island, though possibly to the detriment of the Australian market, according to local tourism operators.
The comments come amidst concerns expressed by tourism operators in Bali that revised flight schedules â€“ particularly between Australia and Bali â€“ will operate via Jakarta instead of being nonstop services.
The issues were raised at a recent meeting in Bali between Garuda and all the major stakeholders in the Bali tourism industry, the first of a series of such gatherings.
The airlineâ€™s executive vice president of sales and marketing, Agus Priyanto, said the new Garuda schedules to Bali would be rerouted through Jakartaâ€™s Soekarno-Hatta Airport as part of a network revamp, opening up the vital Middle Eastern, Indian and pan-Asian markets to Bali, on a scale not previously offered.
He said destinations within reach of Garudaâ€™s narrow-body aircraft would still be served by nonstop routes, and that Jakarta would become the hub for all Garuda international flights.
Hourly shuttle services to destinations such as Bali would be provided, with new schedules in place by the end of March, 2007.
â€œThe revised schedules, while providing a major boost to Garudaâ€™s profitability, will also broaden the airlineâ€™s reach and open up more of Bali to the wider world,â€ said Priyanto.
Garuda said international passengers with a final destination to Bali would be able to check directly through to Bali without any unnecessary delays in Jakarta. Priyanto said he anticipated â€œvery smooth transfers in Jakarta for passengers going to Bali.â€
While concerns about diminishing Australian arrivals to Bali were expressed at the meeting, Priyanto said these should be offset by the sheer increase in flight frequencies to the island.
He reaffirmed that Garuda was â€œvery much still serving Bali.â€
The meeting conceded, meanwhile, that Garudaâ€™s moves also offered improved opportunities for competitors such as Australiaâ€™s Jetstar budget airline, which has announced the inauguration of direct flights to Bali from Australia next month.