Timor Leste, RI sign air service deal

via Joyo News

The Jakarta Post

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nani Afrida, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Timor Leste and Indonesia on Monday agreed to allow two Indonesian
airlines to serve routes into Timor Leste, with 14 flights a week.

The airlines are state-owned PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines and the
privately owned Batavia Air.

As of [Monday], Batavia and Merpati are allowed to fly to Timor Leste
14 times a week,” Indonesian Transportation Minister Freddy Numberi
said after signing an air service agreement with Timor Leste’s
Infrastructure Minister Pedro Lay da Silva.

The airlines would serve the Jakarta-Denpasar-Dili route, Freddy said.

We also plan to open a Surabaya-Kupang-Dili route soon,” he said.

Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said the government
would soon allow other airlines to fly into Timor Leste.

However, we have to renegotiate the plan with the Timor Leste
government,” he said. Meanwhile, da Silva said the agreement would
benefit both countries because it would boost the Timor Leste economy.

Timor Leste is a new country. We expect the agreement to develop the
tourism sector there,” da Silva said.

Da Silva added that Timor Leste planned to establish its own
airlines, but said this plan would take some time to realize. Until
now Merpati has been the only airline flying to the former Indonesian
province since it seceded in 1999. Merpati, operating non-commercial
regular flights with 18 sales branches in Timor Leste, serves the
Denpasar-Dili route seven times a week using a 138-seater Boeing 737-300.

Merpati executive vice president commercial Tonny Aulia Achmad said
the route had a load factor of 85 percent, with 60 percent of
passengers being businesspeople.

He added that airfares were set at US$348.

Merpati plans to add one new flight to Dili from Denpasar and open
three new routes including Kupang-Dili, Makassar-Dili, and Kupang-Dili-Darwin.

Meanwhile, Batavia commercial director Hasudungan Pandiangan said the
private airline would fly the Jakarta-Denpasar-Dili route in December
using an Airbus A319 with a capacity of 144 seats.

We will offer cheaper airfares than Merpati,” he said.

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