AirAsia Incident Causes Decline in Foreign Visitor Number

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – The incident involving an AirAsia flight bound for Singapore from Surabaya at the end of 2014 has negatively affected Indonesia’s tourism industry. The head of Indonesia’s Central Statistics Agency (BPS,) Suryamin, said that the accident has caused the number of foreign visitors into Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Bandung’s Husein Sastranegara Airport, and Surabaya’s Juanda Airport to decline.

    Suryamin said that as the aftermath of the incident the Transportation Minister has revoked 12 flight route permits of airlines known to be plagued with several issues. “Consequently, the number of visitors are affected, especially from Juanda Airport, as visitors know that the doomed AirAsia flight had left for Singapore from Juanda,” said Suryamin at a press conference at his office on Wednesday.

    BPS figures showed that the amount of incoming foreign visitors at Juanda Airport declined by 15.01 percent in February 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, whereas the Husein Sastranegara and Soekarno-Hatta each experienced a decline of 10.66 percent and 5.33 percent, respectively.

    Suryamin said that no decline has been observed at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, because no permits were revoked for flights originating from the airport—the same goes for Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam. “The amount of passengers going through Kuala Namu Airport in Deli Serdang has, in fact, increased slightly,” he said.

    BPS records showed that Ngurah Rai, Hang Nadim, and Kuala Namu each experienced an increase in foreign visitors in 2015, compared to the same period in 2014, wherein each experienced spikes of 23.65, 22.78 and 1.70 percent, respectively.

    Cumulatively speaking, throughout January-February 2015, the total amount of foreign visitors that came into Indonesia has reached 1.51 million people—up by 3.71 percent compared to the same period last year. In February 2015 alone, the total amount of foreign tourists peaked at 787,600 people—reflecting a spike of 1195 percent compared to February 2014, wherein 702,700 foreign visitors came to Indonesia.

    Previously, the president director of Indonesia AirAsia, Sunu Widyatmoko, had asked Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan to allow Indonesia AirAsia to re-operate their Surabaya-Singapore scheduled service, as according to Sunu the issue was ‘purely administrative’ and had been resolved by the company. “Everything has been cleared up, but we have yet to be allowed to operate our services between Surabaya and Singapore. We want to operate the route to be reopened for us,” he said.

    It is known that the Transportation Minister had frozen Indonesia AirAsia’s license to ply the route because it was found that the doomed flight had flown towards Singapore from Surabaya without having the appropriate permits. According to Jonan, Indonesia AirAsia had the slot clearance at the airport but no route permit, which should not be interpreted as a green light to operate scheduled services on that day. When asked about the possible re-opening of the route, Jonan simply said, “We’ll see.”

    The government is hoping to attract at least 11 million foreign visitors in 2015 by adding a number of countries to its visa-free scheme. According to the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Indroyono Soesilo, the government hopes to gain US$12 billion from foreign tourists in 2015.