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Travellers can look forward to more flights and lower fares between Singapore and Indonesia, after a deal to expand air links was inked between the two countries.
Both governments have agreed to allow their carriers to fly more often between Changi Airport and several Indonesian cities, including Jakarta, Surabaya and Medan.
Indonesian airlines like Garuda and Lion Air have been given permission to fly from Singapore to other parts of Asia, The Straits Times has learned. However, they will first have to apply to their government for the go-ahead.
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Details of the actual increase in flight numbers are not available, but the new deal comes amid growing business and social relations between both countries.
Singapore-Jakarta is Changi Airport's busiest route, with over 1,000 weekly flights operated by 16 airlines. It is also the world's second-busiest international air link after Hong Kong-Taipei.
There is also potential for growth between Singapore and other Indonesian cities, travel agents and travellers said.
Sales manager Lenny Surjati, 40, who has lived in Singapore for 16 years, said: "This is definitely good news for travellers. I fly to Jakarta at least once a month to visit my friends and relatives and I also have many relatives who come here for holidays or to seek medical treatment. Many Indonesians also have children who study in Singapore so the demand for travel is very high."
But she added that even with so many flights on offer, getting a ticket - especially during peak seasons - can be tough. "Sometimes you have no choice but to fly business class because there are no more seats in economy."
Like many other frequent travellers, Madam Surjati is especially excited about the possibility of more flights to other cities such as Surabaya, Medan and Bandung.
Spokesman for travel firm CTC Travel Alicia Seah said: "The Singapore-Jakarta market is mainly business traffic and people visiting friends and relatives, but there is very good potential to market places like Bandung and Surabaya for leisure travellers."
A spokesman for Singapore's Transport Ministry said more flights will facilitate growth in air-travel demand, given the growing trade and investment flows between the two countries.
Airlines like Tiger Airways and Lion Air are keen to grow their services. Tiger's managing director in Singapore Ho Yuen Sang said: "We are more than glad, as it means more access for us."
Lion Air's president director Rusdi Kirana said: "With more rights, we hope to double our daily Jakarta-Singapore services from six now to about 10 or 12."
The airline made headlines at the Singapore Airshow in February last year with a US$22.4 billion order - at catalogue prices - for 230 single-aisle Boeing jets. It is also keen to fly from Singapore to other Asian destinations.
Mr Kirana said: "From Singapore to Bangkok and Hong Kong are some markets we would be keen to explore."
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on January 31, 2013. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.
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