Bali’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport is welcoming the return of China Airlines to the tarmac this week. As Indonesia’s second busiest airport, and the country’s top tourism destination, resuming direct connections with Taiwan will be a relief for vast swathes of the tourism sector.
The General Manager of PT Angkasa Pura I, I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport Handy Heryudhitiawan, confirmed the addition of China Airlines to the Bali Airport flight schedule. The airline’s operation in Bali was bought to a quick halt early in the pandemic.
The flight service will relaunch on Friday, 2nd September, and operate twice weekly. The flight offering is a direct route from Taipei in Taiwan to Denpasar every Tuesday and Friday. It is possible to fly Taipei-Denpasar any day of the week. However, a layover in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, or Jakarta is needed.
Heryudhitiawan told local reporters that his teams were preparing a welcoming committee for the airline. There were rumors of a water canon salute similar to that awarded to returning airlines like Emirates earlier in the year. The Airport General Manager shared his hopes for this resumed flight service’s impact on tourism in Bali. He said he hopes it will give travelers from across Taiwan a renewed enthusiasm for visiting the Island of the Gods.
He said, “Yes, I hope this is a breath of fresh air in increasing visits. Moreover, in the past, China was number one”. While travelers from Australia have long been the highest number of visitors to Bali, tourism from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan was increasing near exponentially before the pandemic.
There is hope that this new flight schedule will be the first significant step in making it easier for tourists from Taiwan to enjoy Bali after the resumption of the visa-on-arrival program.
The Stakeholder Relations Manager of PT Angkasa Pura I I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Taufan Yudhistira, spoke with reporters to share updates about Bali Airport’s current flight offering. He said that as of August 2022, 23 airlines are serving 22 international routes from 12 countries from Ngurah Rai International.
He compared this to the operation before the pandemic, where there were 35 airlines offering direct flights to Denpasar. There are 12 airlines that have yet to return to the tarmac, and it is hoped that plans will fall into place to reopen the remaining schedules soon.
Key departure countries like Russia, New Zealand, and Brunei are yet to resume direct service. Direct flights from the UK and other parts of Europe would also positively impact tourism figures.
Tafun confirmed that from January to July 2022, Bali Airport served 1,270,890 passengers. In 2019 for the same time period, the airport welcomed 7,933,976 international passengers alone. He ended his statement by saying, ‘With the operation of the China Airlines airline, it is hoped that it can revive international passenger movements.
The resumption of the China Airlines service to Denpasar comes just days after the Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Countries, HE Deng Xijun, met with Bali Governor Wayan Koster. The pair discussed the future of tourism, education, and the upcoming G20 Summit in November. There are speculations whether the resumption of Taiwan’s China Airline’s flight schedule and the visit from the ambassador will lead to direct flights from Bali to mainland China being rescheduled.
Governor Koster told Ambassador Xijun, ‘We will wait for the return of tourists from China, which before the pandemic was one of the countries from which most tourists came to Bali. I beg the Honorable Ambassador to encourage the Chinese government to allow their citizens to Bali’.
Ambassador Xijun replied, ‘I believe that with time and recovery, Chinese tourists will come back to Bali…I also congratulate you on the post-pandemic handling and recovery, which I consider extraordinary so that now conditions are conducive [for the return of Chinese tourists]’.