Uzbekistan Airways has started flying between Tashkent and Jakarta on May 1, and this new route is expected to boost tourism between the two countries.
Operated with a Boeing 767 Dreamliner with 264 seats in two classes, the new flight is available twice-weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It is hoped that the frequency will be bumped up to thrice-weekly, according to Azimkhon Khodjaev, head of marketing and networking planning of Uzbekistan Airways.
In addition to improving bilateral relations, Uzbekistan ambassador to Indonesia Ulugbek Rozukulov is upbeat that the direct flight between the two countries will have an impact on the tourism sector.
Rozukulov expects the new route will double the number of tourists from Indonesia to Uzbekistan and vice versa. He believes the target is possible because, among other reasons, Indonesians already enjoys visa free travel to Uzbekistan, he said.
“We also find a lot of interest among Indonesians because (of the many) Islamic attractions in our country,” Rozukulov shared.
Similarly, Rusmiati, chairman of the Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA), observed for Indonesians, a majority of whom are Muslims, Uzbekistan was an attractive destination because it was home to historical Islamic sites.
Another segment of Indonesians who travel to Uzbekistan are those travelling for umrah, with a direct flight connecting the country to Jeddah. She added that Indonesians usually visit Uzbekistan largely for leisure, not business.
For Rudiana, director of sales of Jakarta-based WITA Tour, the launch of Tashkent-Jakarta flight is a breakthrough.
Prior to that, Indonesians wanting to visit Uzbekistan usually had to go through Singapore or Malaysia to catch a connecting flight to Tashkent airport.
Rudiana pointed out that while not many Indonesians have been to Uzbekistan, the interest in the destination is growing.
“If we take a look at Uzbekistan today, it is largely like Jakarta in the 1970s. However, it is rich in tourist destinations appealing to Indonesian people who are mostly Muslims. One of them is the memorial complex of Imam al-Bukhari,” he said.
Like Rusmiati, he foresees demand for Uzbekistan coming mostly from the leisure segment.
On Wednesdays, the flight takes off from Islam Karimov Tashkent International Airport at 06.45 and arrives at Soekarno Hatta International Airport at 09.00, transiting in Kuala Lumpur. The return flight leaves Jakarta 22.30, and flies direct to Taskent, arriving the next day at 07.00.
The Thursday flight goes to Jakarta direct, leaving Tashkent at 09.25 and arriving in Jakarta the next day at 09.25. The return flight leaves Jakarta at 10.50 with a transit in Kuala Lumpur and arrives at Tashkent at 21.35.