JAKARTA- National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia is looking to start linking Jakarta to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea capital city from next August. The Indonesian carrier is seeking to serve untapped markets in Asia Pacific. So far there was never a direct air connection from Port Moresby to Indonesia, despite the fact that Western Papua island belongs to Indonesia. The launching of an air route followed the recent visit of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Papua New Guinea’s national airline, Air Niugini, is also due to serve the same route connecting Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to Port Moresby International Airport but no date has so far been advanced. Garuda will first offer two weekly flights on the Jakarta-Denpasar-Port Moresby route. “Pacific nations such as Fiji have been hoping for a flight serving the region. There has been no direct air connectivity [from Jakarta to Pacific nations], so the flight to Port Moresby will serve as a bridge to the Pacific islands,” indicated Indonesian Transport Minister Mangindaan to local media.
The new venture could also foster a new era in tourism with common products between Indonesia West Papua and PNG. According to Indonesia Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, plans now exist to expand the boat race ‘Sail Raja Ampat 2014’ to Papua New Guinea. The Minister indicated to media that they were still some security and trans-border issues to be solved between both countries. Another boost for tourism would be to provide flights between Port Moresby and West Papua regional capital Jayapura.