JAKARTA–Three Indonesian airlines will open six new routes to China starting June to attract more Chinese tourists, officials said on Tuesday.
Sriwijaya Air commercial director Toto Nursatyo said it will launch three new routes in June for Jakarta to Nanning, Jakarta to Haikou, and Denpasar to Nanning.
“China is our main target for international market. The three will add to our existing eight flights to China,” Nursatyo told Xinhua.
Last year, Sriwijaya carried around 600,000 foreign visitors, with 350,000 coming from China. It expects to double the number of its international passengers to 1 million in 2017 including 650,000 Chinese tourists, he said.
In total, Sriwijaya is targeting overall passenger numbers to 15 million by year-end from 11.4 million passengers in 2016.
Nursatyo said to achieve that goal, Sriwijaya is slated to welcome 13 new aircraft this year, including two Boeing 777s. The company currently operates 52 aircraft on 55 domestic and international routes.
Nursatyo said the main destinations for Chinese tourists are Bali, Jakarta, and Manado in North Sulawesi. The company also hoped to fly Chinese tourists to five more destinations including Bintan, Belitung, Lake Toba, Tarakan and Ternate by charter flights this year.
Meanwhile, two other airlines, Garuda Indonesia and Indonesia AirAsia are also setting up for expansions in China.
Garuda Indonesia CEO Pahala N. Mansury said it plans to fly from Denpasar to Chengdu this year. The state-owned airline currently operates regular flights between Jakarta and Denpasar to three Chinese cities including Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai.
Indonesia AirAsia CEO Dendy Kurniawan said it will fly from Jakarta to Shenzhen, as well as from Jakarta to China’s Macao Special Administrative Region this year.
“This is our real action to support the Tourism Ministry’s program to bring in 15 million foreign tourists in 2017. If possible our company contributes 2 million foreign passengers,” Kurniawan said.
The airline will buy two aircraft, an Airbus A320 and A330, to add to its existing 24 aircraft fleets.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said of the total 11.4 million foreign visitors last year, AirAsia contributed 25 percent through its international flights.
“On Monday I visited Garuda, AirAsia, and Sriwijaya to request the increase of flights, especially on new routes,” said Yahya in a statement on Tuesday.
In 2017, the government expects to receive 2.1 million tourists from China, higher than last year’s figure of 1.43 million Chinese tourists, said the minister.