The Jakarta Post
Two Indonesian folk dancers strut their stuff at Merah Beach in Banyuwangi regency, East Java, in May 2015. (Shutterstock.com/Yavuz Sariyildiz)
Garuda Indonesia's low-cost subsidiary Citilink has revealed plans to open a new international route from Banyuwangi in East Java to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on Tuesday.
"Today we are in Banyuwangi to strengthen this international route plan as well as check on the preparation of Banyuwangi's Blimbingsari Airport to become an international airport," PT Citilink Indonesia commercial director Andy Adrian Febriyanto said in a statement on Tuesday.
Andy said Banyuwangi was considered a promising market, as its tourism characteristics were highly attractive to Malaysian tourists, starting with the culture and landscape to the local character and cuisine.
"The current trend among Malaysian tourists is adventure tourism, such as hiking in the national parks. Banyuwangi has all of that with its Ijen Crater and the national parks of Meru Betiri and Alas Purwo," he added.
Its proximity to Bali was a supporting factor, allowing tourists to visit Bali after exploring Banyuwangi.
Flight operations on the direct route are expected to begin in the fourth quarter this year, following the completion of infrastructure enhancements at Blimbingsari Airport.
Read also: Interesting places to visit in Banyuwangi
State-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II is currently pushing for improvements of the airstrip and apron, as the airport will serve to welcome delegates to an IMF-World Bank meeting to be held in Bali in October.
"We are planning to use Airbus A320 aircraft [for the new route]," said Andy.
Citilink already serves a direct route between Jakarta and Banyuwangi with two flights a day.
"The development of the Jakarta-Banyuwangi route is very good, with a load factor of 80 percent. That's why we are very optimistic about this international route," he added.
Blimbingsari Airport general manager Anton Marthalius said the development of the airport was progressing well. In 2011, the number of passengers served grew by only 7,826 people from the year before, but the number of new passengers has since increased by more than 2,300 percent, reaching 188,949 in 2017.
"This year, the development is also positive. On average we serve 1,000 passengers per day. Other than weekends, the load factor on weekdays is also high," Anton added. (kes)