Jakarta. Airline passenger numbers grew 11.57 percent during the Idul Fitri holiday, exceeding government estimates, a senior official at the Ministry of Transportation said.
"The increase might be the result of additional aircraft and extra flights. Both airport capacity and operational hours have been increased," Transportation Ministry secretary general Soegiharjo said in a statement on Tuesday (27/06).
Soegiharjo was referring to the June 16-27 period, 10 days before Idul Fitri until two days after the celebration.
The ministry's previous estimate put the number of air passenger at 5.5 million for the period, which would have been a 9.8 percent increase from the same period last year.
Angkasa Pura II president director Muhammad Awaluddin said 17 new flight routes have been added so far this year to the airports under the state-owned operator's control.
These include the Jakarta-Banyuwangi route operated by Garuda Indonesia, Bandung-Pekanbaru by Lion Air, and Jakarta-Sampit and Jakarta-Pangkalan Bun routes by Sriwijaya Air.
Four of the airports managed by Angkasa Pura II recorded unusually high growth in passenger numbers, Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said two days before Idul Fitri.
The number of passengers at Supadio International Airport in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, was 35 percent higher than usual, while Sultan Syarif Kasim II International Airport in Pekanbaru, Riau, saw a 25 percent increase. Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II International Airport in Palembang, South Sumatra, recorded a 15 percent increase and Halim Perdanakusuma in East Jakarta had a 12 percent increase.
Major airports in Indonesia operate on a 24-hour basis, but smaller ones usually close at night. The government decided to extend the operating hours of smaller airports and allowed airlines to schedule additional flights during this year's Idul Fitri holiday to accommodate increased demand.
Budi said Adisumarmo International Airport in Solo, Central Java; Adisutjipto International Airport in Yogyakarta; Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman Airport in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan; and Kualanamu International Airport in Medan, North Sumatra, currently operate until midnight to avoid potential delays during the peak season.
Soegiharjo said the Transportation Ministry expects the number of people returning to major cities to peak this weekend.
"If people can go home early, please [do so...] it will distribute the traffic better," he said.