In recent weeks major airlines have been resuming their flight services to Bali. This week it was the turn of Malaysia’s Batik Air. The airline, previously known as Malindo, is now part of the Indonesian Lion Air group.
The resumption of the Kuala Lumpur-Bali route comes as welcome news for travelers of all kinds, especially long-term residents in Bali who hop from the island to the Malaysian capital regularly for visa renewals and business travel.
The flight from Kuala Lumpur landed at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport on the afternoon of Thursday 2nd June. The 180-seater plane carried 129 passengers to Denpasar and delivered them safe and sound to the terminal building.
Travelers from Malaysia make up a big proportion of Indonesia’s total international arrivals. It is easy to see why, the countries share a border, trade agreements, and many elements of their culture. The flight time from Kuala-Lumpur to Bali is 3-hours.
Passengers were greeted by airport management staff and were blessed with marigold flower garlands and a respectful Balinese bow. Speaking to the press after the flight landed, the general manager of Ngurah Rai Airport, Handy Heryudhitiawan said ‘”We fully support the operations of Batik Air Malaysia at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport.’
The route is scheduled four times a week, flying every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Heryudhitiawan confirmed that the schedule will increase as demand increases. He said that he hoped the resumption of this flight route will continue to increase international arrivals at Bali Airport.
In May 2022, Bali Airport welcomed over a million passengers; 770,000 as domestic travelers while there were just over 236,000 international passengers. Since Bali reopened its borders in February 2022 the number of international arrivals has steadily increased. The island saw a rapid influx of domestic arrivals over the Muslim festival of Eid Al-Fitr when hotel occupancy hit 60% for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
It is predicted that there will be another rapid increase in arrivals, this time international, during June and July. This has typically been Bali’s high season. June and July coincide with the Australian long winter break and the European summer holidays.
The resumption of Batik Air’s Kuala-Lumpur to Bali route will make it much easier for long-haul travelers to visit Bali. Kuala Lumpur is one of the world’s biggest transiting airports and offers a convenient layover for travelers heading to Bali from the United States, Canada, and some parts of Europe. While airlines like AirAsia have been operating this route for a few months, having more availability of flights makes prices more competitive and creates easier layover options.
Both Malaysia and Indonesia have scrapped the pre-arrival PCR test for Covid-19 vaccinated travelers. Indonesia has opened its visa on arrival program to include 72 countries, the list includes Bali’s top visitors, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, the UK, and United States. Malaysia’s visa on arrival program currently offers 63 countries a 90-day ‘visa-free’ stay.
As international borders continue to open up and Covid-19 related restrictions continue to ease it will become increasingly easier for travelers to move as they did in pre-pandemic days. Travelers will be able to hop from countries across South East Asia without quarantining and PCR testing, this will help especially help the backpacking tourism market in Bali.
The flight schedule at Bali International Airport is nearly back to its ‘normal’ routine. Airline giants like Emirates have returned to the tarmac, and low-budget Australian airline JetStar has resumed its Perth-Bali flight route.
In the coming months, travelers can anticipate online travel deals popping up regularly. Bali is keen to see travelers, especially from Australia, return to the island. Before the pandemic Australian travelers made up just over a quarter of Bali’s international arrivals.
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