Indonesia's flag carrier Garuda Indonesia announced on Monday that it would re-open its Jakarta-Beijing route on Jan. 18 after the airline stopped serving the route in October 1997 due to the severe economic crisis in the country.
Previously on Jan. 9, China's airline Air China resumed its Beijing-Jakarta route after dropping it in April 1998 due to a financial problem in the company and the security problems in Indonesia.
Air China plans to fly twice a week from Jakarta and twice a week from Beijing to Jakarta. The flights, using Boeing 737/700 planes with a capacity of 128 passengers, will transit in Xiamen, China.
"Some 70 percent of Indonesians of Chinese descent living in China reside in Xiamen so it's the right city to transit in," airline general manager Diao Hang was quoted Tuesday by The Jakarta Post as saying.
He also said that he could not estimate passenger figures because Indonesia would hold general elections this year.
"I can't give any projection but it will take sales of at least50 percent of the seats to keep the route running," Diao said.
He added that the airline also planned to serve the Beijing-Denpasar route since "Denpasar is a popular tourist destination among the Chinese people".
Garuda Indonesia plans to provide direct flights three times a week for the Jakarta-Beijing route, using its A-330 plane that has a capacity of 293 passengers.
"The decision was taken after seeing a 10 percent increase in the number of passengers going to China and back within the last five years," said the airline's communication head, Pujobroto.
The growing level of trade between the two countries and the citing of Indonesia as a tourist destination in March 2002 by the Chinese government were also factors that could boost the number of travelers between the countries, said Pujobroto.
He added that over 130,000 Indonesians went to China in the last three years, and predicted that the figure would rise to some345,000 in 2004.
"We'll also increase the frequency of flights to Shanghai and Guangzhou from three times to five times a week," added Pujobroto.
(Xinhua News Agency January 13, 2004)