The Jakarta Post
A least six more airlines from foreign countries ' mostly from the Middle East ' will begin their direct flights to Jakarta later this year to tap into the growing air traffic from Indonesia and there respective countries.
Transportation Ministry air transportation director Djoko Murjatmodjo said in Jakarta on Friday that the carriers would include Egypt Air (Egypt), Jordan Aviation (Jordan), RAK (United Arab Emirates), Oman Air (Oman), Air Niugini (Papua New Guinea), and British Airways (UK).
'They are currently processing their air slots to fly to Indonesia, and most of them will begin their flight service to our country in November,' Djoko told The Jakarta Post.
The route permits that are being processed are Cairo'Jakarta, Amman'Jakarta, Abu Dhabi'Jakarta, Muscat'Jakarta, Port Moresby'Jakarta and London'Jakarta.
He said that the carriers have been calculating the routes for the past four months. Each carrier is requested to fly between the routes three times a week to once per day.
'New service from these carriers will better connect Indonesia to international destinations and not only to their hubs. As well as provide more choices for passengers, both domestic and international, when they want to travel. This will bring more advantage for us and them,' he said.
He also said that competition among the Middle Eastern airlines to serve the Indonesian route was growing due to the sharp increase in the number of minor haj pilgrims (umrah) to Mecca and other people wanting to travel to Jerusalem and Alexandria.
Recently two gulf carriers, Qatar Airways and Kuwait Airways, announced their plans to add more flights to Jakarta in September and October, respectively.
In addition, he said that several non Middle Eastern airlines that have entered the country are applying for more flight frequency. Thai Airways is one such airline that plans to increase its Jakarta'Bangkok route.
The number of air travelers in Indonesia has increased significantly in the last few years thanks to the solid growth in the economy.
The ministry said that the number of air travelers reached 72.6 million throughout 2012, a rise of almost 15 percent from the previous year. This year, the figure is projected to hit 83.4 million passengers.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian National Air Carriers Association (INACA)'s scheduled airline division chairman Syafril Nasution said that the new flight connections would help boost the tourism sector, trade, and investment in Indonesia.
'The carriers will provide more international seat capacity to and from Indonesia; this will surely impact our tourism sector and other businesses. From a business perspective, this gives Indonesia more opportunity to invite tourists and investors and vice versa,' Syafril told the Post.
However, he said that the government should immediately accelerate aviation infrastructure in the country otherwise the growth would decline in the future.
'We are facing the ASEAN single market in 2015 that will open the flow of goods and people across Southeast Asian countries. If we want to be competitive and maintain our healthy growth, we need to fix the infrastructure,' he continued.
Infrastructure bottlenecks remain a huge problem to help sustain the country's economic development.
In Soekarno-Hatta, for instance, the number of passenger passing through the airport has reached 54.7 million last year while it was originally only designed to accommodate 22 million passengers annually.
State run airport firm Angkasa Pura II is working on a 'facelift' project to triple the capacity of the airport to 66 million and build a new apron to handle 33 wide body planes. The 7.8 trillion project is expected to finish by the end of 2014.