The management of Malaysia-based budget carrier company AirAsia has expressed the corporation`s readiness to open direct flights between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Banyuwangi in East Java. The airline is keen to expand their Indonesian coverage beyond Jakarta and Bali and were convinced of the viability of Banyuwangi following a series of inspections at the airport and in the surrounding area.
“We will send a follow-up team to discuss the planned development of Banyuwangi Airport. If the infrastructure to make it an international airport is ready, then we are ready to open Kuala Lumpur-Banyuwangi flights,” said Executive Chairman of Air Asia, Berhad Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, during a recent visit to Banyuwangi Airport. “We seek to attract travellers from Australia and China, because Kuala Lumpur is AirAsia`s biggest hub,” he continued.
The visit of AirAsia’s Executive Chairman was intended to assess the airport’s development in the framework of business development. He was accompanied by AirAsia`s CEO in Indonesia, Dendi Kurniawan and Banyuwangi Sub-district Head Abdullah Azwar Anas. Attendees remarked on the high potential of Banyuwangi as a tourism destination, in particular the 77 events which serve as tourist attractions throughout the year, and the range of interesting destinations nearby. It was this potential, along with the continued investment at a local level, which convinced AirAsia to commit to the area.
Head of Banyuwangi Sub-district, Abdullah Azwar Anas, expressed his appreciation for AirAsia’s plan to expand its business in Banyuwangi. He noted that every citizen in Banyuwangi is committed to developing tourism there and that Banyuwangi is also expecting to build a state-owned railway factory, a national sugar mill and an international marina development project soon.
Azwar Anaz explained that the airport progress in Banyuwangi has been relatively fast. In 2017, the number of passengers reached 188,949 people (an increase of 67 percent compared to the 113,153 passengers recorded in 2016). From January to March 2018, the number of passengers rose by 143 percent compared to the same period in 2017. Aircraft movement also increased by more than a hundred percent.
“The infrastructure of Banyuwangi Airport will continue to be developed. Moreover, Banyuwangi will become the buffer airport for the IMF-World Bank meeting in Bali this October. The runway is in the process of being extended to 2,600 metres so that AirAsia’s Airbus A-320 can land here. Therefore, I believe we are ready,” noted Azwar.
The new route from AirAsia, when it arrives, will not only provide more holiday options for Malaysian tourists and business travellers; the route is expected to connect international visitors to the Malaysian capital from an area in Indonesia that’s close to Bali and a range of attractions in east Java. Increased connectivity between such popular spots in Indonesia and Malaysia is great news for major players in the tourism industry who seek to connect these neighbouring states.