Tourists now have destination choices in East and West Nusa Tenggara after Garuda Indonesia on Monday launched its 'Explore' flights to the regions.
Garuda Indonesia CEO Emirsyah Satar said with the Explore sub-brand, Garuda could reach remote but popular destinations such as Komodo.
'With Explore, we will be able to serve customers wanting to explore Indonesia,' Emirsyah said during the maiden flight from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) and Bima in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) on Monday.
Labuan Bajo in West Manggarai regency will be the departure location for tourist trips to Komodo, home to the world famous komodo dragon.
Beginning on Tuesday, Garuda Explore will serve the Denpasar-Labuan Bajo-Ende (East Nusa Tenggara) and Denpasar-Bima-Mataram (West Nusa Tenggara) routes, using ATR 72-600 turboprop.
As of Dec. 20, Explore will start serving the Denpasar-Labuan Bajo-Tambolaka (East Nusa Tenggara).
Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Mari Elka Pangestu, who joined the Explore maiden flight, said the Garuda Explore service to Nusa Tenggara would be attractive to foreign tourists.
'With more flights to NTT, NTT does not anymore stand for Nasib Tergantung Tuhan [fate depends on God] but fate depends on tourism,' she joked.
Garuda Indonesia spokesman Pujobroto said the Explore services would soon serve other 'remote' rising destinations such as Raja Ampat in West Papua; Wakatobi (Southeast Sulawesi); Jember and Banyuwangi in East Java.
To support the expansion, Garuda has placed a firm order for 25 ATR 72-600 with option to buy another 10 aircraft. Garuda is not the first airline to use ATR aircraft in Indonesia, but it could easily become the largest buyer, European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) Indonesia president director Laurent Godin said.