On 28th October 2017, Garuda will serve the first official charter flight between Singapore and Silangit Airport near Lake Toba, North Sumatra. The new flights follow recent renovations to the airport and are expected to bring an influx of international tourists to the region.
PT Angkasa Pura II President Director Muhammad Awaluddin confirmed the news in an interview with Kompas.com at the airport today (25/9), in which he stated that Garuda will be the first airline to offer direct international flights to the location. He also mentioned the potential for greater frequency of the route:
“[The existing schedule] is still quite loose,” stated Awaluddin. “Although, we expect there to be many more flights in the near future,” he added. Sriwijaya Air and Garuda Indonesia already offer direct flights to and from Jakarta, whilst Wings Air is expected to follow suit in the coming months.
The new flights follow recent expansion to the airport in Silangit, specifically designed to accommodate larger planes and a higher frequency of flights from international points of departure. The work included a new terminal and extension of the length and width of the existing runway, which enables larger planes to land. To convert Silangit into an international airport, new customs, immigration and quarantine offices have also been built.
Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi has stressed the importance of combining new flights with interesting and attractive activities for tourists. “Singapore-Silangit is charter, [so] I ask the local government to [engage in] synergistic activity,” said the Minister of Transportation.
The Minister has targeted an increase in foreign tourist numbers over the next six months, in the hope that the new international flights will move from a charter basis to a regular schedule.
Arrivals at Silangit reached 124,000 in the first quarter of 2017; representing a 400 per cent growth compared to the same period last year. Following completion of the expansion work, this number is forecasted to reach as many as 300,000 passengers by the end of the year. Silangit Airport’s annual passenger capacity is expected to reach 500,000 passengers by 2019.