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Amid the costly air fares charged by domestic airlines ahead of Idul Fitri, many people living in border areas, like Batam, Bintan and Karimun, have anticipated the matter by taking direct, and cheaper, flights offered by international airlines from Singapore to return to Indonesia for the holiday.
An advertising company manager in Batam, Ababil Akbar Maulana, 31, who hails from Sampang, Madura, East Java, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday that he was forced to think of other ways to return to Surabaya with his wife amid the expensive airfares from Batam to Surabaya. His regular travel agent suggested he return to Surabaya via Singapore, as the airfare was cheaper.
From Singapore’s Changi Airport, domestic and international airlines serve a number of destinations in Indonesia, such as Medan, Yogyakarta, Padang, Pekanbaru, Jakarta and Surabaya.
“I have been searching for flights to return home on Aug. 18 since the beginning of Ramadhan, but two airlines serving Batam and Surabaya have already set the highest fares. My friend then suggested I return home via Singapore, which turned out be cheaper by more than Rp 2 million (about US$220),” said Ababil.
According to him, two domestic airlines - Lion Air and Batavia Air - had set the fare for the Batam-Surabaya route at Rp 1,840,000. The fare was the highest, which had been set by the Transportation Ministry. He added that if he were to buy a return ticket, it would have cost him Rp 7,360,000.
From the several international flight options, he picked China Airlines for the Aug. 18 flight, as it offered the cheapest fare. When he booked the ticket at the beginning of Ramadhan, it cost S$270 a ticket, or S$540 for a return ticket, or equivalent to only Rp 3,996,000 at the exchange rate of Rp 7,400 to the dollar.
Meanwhile, conflicting methodologies in predicting the start of Idul Fitri may lead to the country’s two largest Islamic organizations, Nahdlatlul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, celebrating the holiday on different dates.
Nahdlatul Ulama secretary general Imanudin Rahmat said that his organization used the sighting of the crescent moon to determine when Idul Fitri fell. Meanwhile, Muhammadiyah announced that Idul Fitri would fall on Sunday, following a calculation based on a hisab (astronomical observation). “We invite all members of Muhammadiyah, and all Muslims in general, to perform Eid mass prayer to welcome Idul Fitri on Aug. 19,” Muhammadiyah secretary-general Agung Danarto said.