The much awaited reopening of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia`s Ambon route in June is expected to have a significant effect on tourism in Maluku.
Starting June 1 this year, there will be regular flights from Jakarta to Ambon, Maluku province`s most prominent island with hilly terrain, covered in lush vegetation, has many idyllic spots and two crescent shaped bays, Baguala and Ambon bays.
"The planned reopening of Garuda Indonesia`s Jakarta-Ambon route with a stopover in Makassar, South Sulawesi in the first week of June 2010 will have a strategic impact on the development of Maluku`s tourism," local culture and tourism office spokesperson Florence Sahusilawane said in Ambon on Monday.
Sahusilawane expressed optimism that with the Garuda Indonesia`s new route to the scenic eastern Indonesian city of Ambon, more foreign tourist in the run up to the international marine event of Sail Banda 2010 would come to Maluku.
Hendra Sumarno, the general manager of Garuda Indonesia`s Makassar branch, said in Ambon over the weekend that the company was preparing the personnel needed to handle the reopened route.
In addition, an office of the national flag carrier would be opened next to the Mutiara Hotel on Jalan Raya Pattimura in Ambon to give the best possible service to Garuda customers in Maluku.
Hendra Sumarno said Garuda flights to Ambon were scheduled to depart from Jakarta`s Soekarno-Hatta airport at 10 a.m. Western Indonesia Time (WIB) with a stopover at Makassar`s Hassanudin airport before flying to Pattimura airport in Ambon, and return to Jakarta at 5 pm East Indonesia Time (WIT).
"We are to schedule Ambon-Jakarta flights in such a way that they will arrive in Jakarta a few hours before Garuda flights to Amsterdam take off because many foreign passengers from Ambon usually want to have connecting flights to the Netherlands," Sumarno said.
He said the Jakarta-Makassar-Ambon route would be served with aircraft having a capacity of 14 to 16 business-class seats and 120 economy-class seats.
Other airline companies flying to Ambon at present are Lion Air, Batavia Air, and Sriwijaya Air from Ambon-Makassar-Jakarta, Ambon-Surabaya-Jakarta, and Ambon-Jakarta.