The Jakarta Post
The Malaysia-based AirAsia Group officially announced on Monday it plan to introduce mid- and long-haul flights in Indonesia's competitive airline industry with its Indonesia AirAsia Extra subsidiary.
Indonesia AirAsia Extra will open a new route connecting Denpasar in Bali to Melbourne in Australia on Dec. 26 as its inaugural route.
Indonesia AirAsia Extra CEO Suratman Durahman said during a press conference that the airline aimed to provide other, more affordable options for Indonesian travelers who wanted to visit Australia.
'Besides providing an opportunity for Indonesians to travel to Australia, we will also be offering more choice for Australian travelers to visit Bali with our good quality, low-cost carrier,' Suratman said.
'This is a very promising market, given the fact that 25 percent of the foreign tourists who visit Bali are Australians,' he continued.
Data from the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry shows that the number of tourists in Bali rose by 13 percent last year compared to the year before.
Separately, AirAsia X's business development director, Siva Ramanathan, said the airline was also trying to boost outbound traffic to Melbourne on the back of a high number of Indonesians studying in the city.
With flight permit signed by the Transportation Ministry in August, the airline is ready to serve the route five times a week, with each flight offering 377 seats, including 12 in business class.
'We are the first LCC [low-cost carrier] to offer business-class seats on long-haul flights. We can also offer seats to those who want to have a peaceful flight, where children under 12 are not allowed,' Ramanathan said.
'Each of these things will make people want to fly with AirAsia,' he continued.
The fares for Denpasar-Melbourne start at Rp 999,000 (US$82.4) per passenger for economy class, and Rp 3.9 million per passenger for business class.
Suratman said the airline was scheduled to open new routes from Indonesia to Taiwan in March 2015, and to Japan by the end of 2015.
He added that the airline was also planning to launch new routes from Indonesia to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, during the second quarter of next year.
Suratman said Indonesia AirAsia Extra would operate the new flights with two Airbus 330s.
'We aim to gradually expand our fleet but that will depend on existing slots at the airports,' he said.
Indonesia AirAsia Extra is the third affiliate for AirAsia X, which focuses on mid- and long-haul flights, following the launch of Malaysia AirAsia X in 2007 and Thailand AirAsia X earlier this year.
Indonesia AirAsia president director Sunu Widyatmoko said separately that Indonesia AirAsia Extra would create a greater opportunity for AirAsia Indonesia to increase its passenger numbers.
'With AirAsia Extra offering this new route connecting Denpasar and Melbourne, we can serve as a feeder for passengers from Surabaya or Yogyakarta, for instance, who want to travel to Australia,' Sunu said.
The company aims to increase the number of its passengers from 7.8 million in 2013 to 8 million by the end of this year. Through August, the airline had recorded a total of 5.31 million passengers.