JAKARTA: Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia, which will start flights to Silangit Airport, Indonesia, the main gateway to Lake Toba from Oct 28, is looking to increase its services in Indonesia, a market in which it sees huge potential.
Speaking at a press conference in conjunction with the official launch of the new route today, AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said the airline is eyeing more routes from Malaysia to Indonesia such as Belitung, Banyuwangi as well as Raja Ampat.
“We are very bullish about Indonesian tourism. Indonesia is a huge priority for us,” Fernandes said.
“We have already started talking about Kuala Lumpur-Belitung (route), which we see as a huge potential. There are so many places within Indonesia, as I’ve always said Indonesia is much more than just Bali.”
In addition, Fernandes said the airline is also looking at cruise business in Indonesia, noting that coupled with the low-cost airline, it would be a huge potential for the state’s tourism industry.
According to Indonesia’s Tourism Ministry, AirAsia made the highest contribution of all airlines to the number of international tourists flown to the country, bringing in 25% of the total figure.
The four times weekly direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Silangit Airport is the 21st route launched by the airline into the state.
Fernandes said the new route marks the carrier’s commitment to support the government of Indonesia in developing the 10 priority tourism destinations, including Lake Toba.
“Prior to Silangit, travellers wishing to visit Lake Toba had to take a six-hour bus ride from Medan. Today, they can fly direct to Silangit and reach Lake Toba in just an hour.
“In addition to building new airports, Indonesia is 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 Indonesia to achieve 20 million tourist arrivals by 2019,” he added.
AirAsia is offering promotional all-in fares from RM39.10 for one way till Aug 12 for travel between Oct 28 and March 29, 2019.
Besides Silangit, AirAsia also flies to 15 other destinations in Indonesia namely Jakarta, Lombok, Pekanbaru, Surabaya, Bali, Medan, Padang, Semarang, Banda Aceh, Pontianak, Yogyakarta, Palembang, Bandung, Makassar and Solo.