The Jakarta Post
State-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I has reported that as many as 12,703 flights with about 1.67 million passengers have been canceled from January to February at its 15 airports across Indonesia following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Of the flights, 11,680 are domestic and 1,023 are international ones that departed from its airports, including I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airports in Denpasar, Bali, and Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java.
The cancellations have led to a financial loss of up to Rp 207 billion (US$14.32 million) only from Angkasa Pura I's aero business in the last two months, president director Faik Fahmi said in Jakarta on Friday.
“We have not yet calculated our losses from the non-aero business as we also have commercial businesses in the airports in the forms of restaurants and retail spaces,” he added. “Since the number of passengers who come to the airports has decreased, so has their spending [in them].”
The COVID-19 spread has forced the government to slap travel bans on the hardest-hit countries, namely China, Iran, Italy and South Korea. Fear of the pneumonia-like illness, which has infected six people on Indonesian soil as of Monday, has also discouraged people from traveling within the country.
Ngurah Rai is the most affected airport as it lost a huge number of flights every day, Faik said, adding that the airport lost 35 flights connecting Denpasar with 22 cities in China daily since the implementation of the travel ban.
“The [flight cancelation] trend will continue because many more airlines, such as Vietjet, Scoot and Korean Air, have notified us of their [plans] to halt their flights [from and to Bali],” he said. He said he expected to see the more cancelations at its airports in March and April following wider travel restrictions.
Angkasa Pura I manages airports in the eastern part of Indonesia: from Yogyakarta and Surabaya to Makassar in South Sulawesi and Jayapura in Papua.
Faid said his company planned to boost revenues from its five subsidiaries, namely PT Angkasa Pura Logistics, real estate and construction company PT Angkasa Pura Properti, services and trading company PT Angkasa Pura Support, hotel and restaurant management company PT Angkasa Pura Hotel and PT Angkasa Pura Retail, in a bid to anchor its financial performance amid the decline in flights.
The government has announced a Rp 10.3 trillion stimulus package to boost private consumption and encourage the tourism sector over concerns that the outbreak would hurt the domestic economy. Of that amount, Rp 298.5 billion was allocated as incentives to airlines and travel agents to boost foreign arrivals to Indonesia, but they were postponed by the government because of the worsening virus spread abroad.
Another Rp 443.39 billion was allocated in the form of discounts to domestic tourists who visited any of the country’s 10 worst-affected tourist destinations, such as Bali and Batam in Riau Islands.
Separately, Garuda Indonesia president director Irfan Setiaputra said the airline had temporarily stopped 40 flights to and from China daily. It also suspended its Denpasar-Hong Kong route and was only operating the Hong Kong-Jakarta route while reducing the frequency of flights between Jakarta and Singapore from 10 per day to only three because of decreasing demand.
“It is inevitable that the outbreak would affect our revenue significantly,” said Irfan. Saudi Arabia’s decision to stop umrah (minor haj) and haj has worsened the situation, he added, since the airline operated four daily flights to Mecca with wide-body aircraft on normal days.
Other airlines such as AirAsia Indonesia also made adjustments to the number of their flights with the changing demand.
AirAsia Indonesia president director Veranita Yosephine said in a statement on Friday that the airline was looking for ways it could help the Indonesian government to stimulate tourism and maintain the country's economy growth, "especially in this challenging period".