An announcement was heard on the public address system at Husein Sastranegara International Airport in Bandung when the clock struck 4:23 p.m. on Tuesday.
“Silk Air, flight number MI169 from Singapore has touched down,” the announcer said. The Singapore-based carrier made its maiden flight to Bandung on Tuesday, opening its first direct route from Singapore to the West Java capital.
The route ended AirAsia’s monopoly on international flights to and from the city, at one time known as the Paris of Java for its culture and architecture. Silk Air will fly the route three times a week.
“Bandung will be our ninth destination in Indonesia” Silk Air CEO Marvin Tan said at a press conference.
“Bandung has a lot of exciting activities like shopping, visiting Mount Tangkuban Perahu, the Ciwidey crater and golfing. Golf in Singapore can be quite expensive, so Singaporeans can golf in Bandung while their wives shop. There are a lot of interesting things in Bandung, that’s why we are keen on promoting Bandung to residents of Singapore.”
Tan is optimistic it will reach an 80 percent occupancy rate for the Bandung-Singapore route, despite the fact that the premium carrier is competing with budget carrier AirAsia.
“Not every passenger cares about the cheap price. There is a market for premium flights,” he said.
The airline offers more space for luggage and services for its passengers. P rices start from $299 for economy class and $739 for business class.
Silk Air also plans to offer passengers travel packages to Bandung in partnership with its sister company, Singapore Airlines, which connects Singapore to major cities in America, Australia and Europe.
“We can accommodate the needs of passengers if they want to continue their travel to Bandung,” Tan said.
Tan said he was confident there was also an untapped market for Bandung’s middle- and upper-income households who were willing to pay more for quality services and the ability to connect with Singapore Airlines flights to major cities around the world.
The maiden flight departed from Singapore at 3:55 p.m. local time and upon arriving in Bandung, the Airbus A319 was greeted with a water cannon salute.