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Indonesian airlines eyes Shanghai for boost after Bali

National carrier Garuda Indonesia opened a Jakarta-Shanghai route recently, hoping the lucrative Chinese market…

National carrier Garuda Indonesia opened a Jakarta-Shanghai route recently, hoping the lucrative Chinese market would offset a plunge in passenger numbers from Australia and Europe following last month’s deadly blasts in Bali.



Garuda began serving the twice weekly Shanghai route last Monday. The flight, with a stopover in Singapore, takes about 7.5 hours.



China is a lucrative market, Garuda’s vice president for marketing and development Irman Imawan was quoted by the Jakarta Post newspaper as saying here recently.



According to the Civil Aviation Authority of China, on average some 300,000 people fly from China to Indonesia every year, making Indonesia one of the top destinations in Southeast Asia for Chinese travelers, it said.



Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Seoul attract some 4.6 million travelers from China every year.



The real obstacle to Garuda tapping the full potential of its new route may be a matter of mere convenience, since a visa to Indonesia cannot be obtained in Shanghai, and the travelers must go to Beijing to apply for a visa.



However, it was learnt that Indonesia plans to open a consulate in Shanghai.



The Shanghai route is Garuda’s third route to China. It also flies three times a week to Guangzhou and seven times a week to Hong Kong.



The airline’s 293-seat Airbus A-330 will serve the flight to Shanghai from Jakarta every Monday and Wednesday, with return flights the following day.



From the first two flights, the passenger load factor was already at 95 percent from Jakarta to Shanghai and 13 percent on the return flights, Garuda’s general manager for Hong Kong, Wandy Hady, was quoted as saying.



The national carrier said last month it would reduce its flights to Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan and South Korea, and stop flights to the cities of Frankfurt in Germany, Fukuoka in Japan and Adelaide in Australia.

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