Leaders in Bali are calling on the central government to stay true to their word about increasing international flights to the island. They are calling on Ministers to take action on their commitments to reduce airfares and increase aircraft capacity. The Secretary for Bali province, Dewa Made Indra, told reapers on Wednesday 28th September that he is calling on the government to act on their promises.
Indra told reporters ‘The number of flights from abroad and within the country to Bali is still lacking. We hear that from people from Ministries and Institutions who visit Bali for the event. Because they are very enthusiastic about holding events in Bali, but [because of] aircraft [capacity], it’s still difficult’.
He suggested that although tourism numbers are increasing, and the preliminary events for the G20 Summit are bringing in more international delegations, more needs to be done to ensure the supply of flights meets demand.
He acknowledged that the availability of flights has increased dramatically since borders reopened but that the current international flights schedule at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar remains beneath what it was before the beginning of the pandemic.
He explained ‘For domestic tourists, the number of visits has reached 12 thousand per day, for foreign tourists the average visit is 10 thousand a day. Compared to the initial opening of tourism, this number is extraordinary. But it has not recovered as before COVID-19’. His belief is that for Bali to fully recover from the pandemic and hit his metric of success (being arrivals surpassing 2019 levels), the key is simply offering more international flights.
Indra confirmed that he has reached out to the Minister for Transportation and that he had requested that the number of flights be increased to Bali. He stated that he understood it could not be done overnight as coordination with airlines is necessary. That said, Indra wants the Ministry for Transport to make it as easy as possible for airlines to operate in Bali and increase their services.
He said, ‘We said, please open it, but [if] there are no or few passengers, so the airline loses. Therefore, the Governor has communicated many times, and he [Transport Minister] agreed. We believe that an approach is definitely being made with the airline to ensure that there are also many visits’.
When asked about ticket prices, Indra echoed statements by Deputy Governor Cok Ace a few weeks back. Indra said a nominal difference has been put in place but more needed to be done to decrease flight prices and ensure that airlines don’t lose profits. He said, ‘This is back to the market, if there are many visits to Bali, they will definitely dare to lower prices. Tickets are still expensive, right because they require high operational costs because their planes are not full’.
Indra suggests that flights are not full because tickets are too expensive and the demand for more flights is there, provided ticket costs can be bought down. Airlines might not see it that way. After a turbulent time during the pandemic, airlines are proceeding with caution.
With rising fuel prices, there is a lot to contend with. Whatsmore, rising fuel prices and cost of living are impacting Bali’s most frequent international travelers too. It is a complex situation. But, without a doubt, more flights with cheaper airfares would make it easier for international travelers to visit Bali.
The Deputy Governor of Bali Cok Ace has already tabled the issue. He has called on the central government to subsidize flights to help bring more visitors to Bali. He noted that many flights from Australia to Thailand are cheaper than flights from Australia to Bali. Meaning many of Bali’s core returning holidaymakers are starting to look elsewhere for an affordable beach getaway.
That being said, Bali Airport currently serves 22 international and 21 domestic flight routes every week, many of which are operated multiple times a week by more than one airline.
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