Mon, 14 Jul 2003

Air Paradise to stopover in Lombok

I Wayan Juniartha, The Jakarta Post, Senggigi, Lombok

Bali-based Air Paradise agreed on Sunday to make a stopover in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, for its Melbourne-Perth-Denpasar flight.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the provincial administration, Air Paradise's aircraft would make a transit stop once a week in Lombok after flying from Melbourne and Perth. The provincial government would cover the landing fee at the local Selaparang Airport for a six-month period. With a fee ranging between US$450 to $500 per aircraft per landing, the administration would have to spend some $12,000.

West Nusa Tenggara Governor Harun Al Rasyid hoped the deal would help the local tourism sector.

"I think the amount (of the fee) is normal considering the number of foreign visitors the flight will bring to Lombok," he said.

"For years we have received many complaints from foreign visitors on the lack of direct flights to Lombok, now, with this MoU, we are on the right path in solving that problem."

Air Paradise chairman Kadek Wiranatha said there had been strong demand for a Lombok flight from its Australian customers.

He said Air Paradise flights to Australia had recorded an average load factor of 74 percent, and in the case of the Perth route the load factor was 80 percent.

"If we could lure 65 percent of our Bali-bound passengers to make a transit stop in Lombok for a few days then I will produce a tremendous positive impact for the local tourism industry," he said.

Currently, Air Paradise serves the Denpasar-Perth-Melbourne route with an Airbus-310 aircraft. To facilitate the new deal, the airline will lease a Boeing 737-400 aircraft.

The airliner also planned to inaugurate its Denpasar-Seoul flight, using an Airbus 300-600 aircraft, on July 16.