WITH the start of operations of the Lombok International Airport (LIA) on October 1, the West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) provincial government is hoping to establish direct air links between Lombok and Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong and the Middle East.
NTB regional tourist office head, Lalu Gita Aryadi, said: “We would like to get direct services here. Malaysia is a potential market for us, but air connection has been an issue. Arrivals from Australia have been growing in the last couple of years, but we have been relying on Bali so far. Hong Kong is a hub for us to reach the China, Korea and Japan markets.”
He added that the regional government had plans to do roadshows and promotions in Indonesia and overseas to create awareness for the new airport and destination.
When asked why they were only making an effort recently, Lalu said: “We have been concentrating on pushing the airport authority to open LIA, (as the opening had already been postponed a few times). Once the airport runs, we will start promoting to airlines.”
Lombok’s current airport, Selaparang, will cease operations on September 30. On October 1, all airlines will depart and land at LIA, located in Central Lombok, 40km from Selaparang, according to Lalu, quoting from the announcement made by the Angkasa Pura I airport authority.
Indonesia AirAsia (IAA) said that the airline had plans on flying the Kuala Lumpur-Lombok route four times a week next year.
IAA marketing and distribution director, Widijastoro Nugroho, said: “We have (always) been interested and planned to fly to Lombok as early as two years ago, but the airport opening was postponed and we have deployed the aircraft initially assigned for Lombok to other destinations.”
He added: “Now we need to plan again and wait for the availability of aircraft, probably next year.”
The airlines that currently fly to Lombok are Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Batavia Air, Merpati Nusantara Airlines, Wings Air, Travira Air, and SilkAir.