Jakarta. AirAsia Indonesia, the local arm of Southeast Asia's largest budget airline AirAsia, is weighing up options to open up new international routes to Japan and India next year. The new routes will help the Indonesian government realize its plan of attracting more foreign tourists from Asia.
AirAsia Indonesia originally aimed to open the new routes last year, but the government barred it from doing so after the company reported negative equity on its balance sheet.
The airline is yet to decide whether it would fly from Jakarta or another city in Indonesia to Japan and India.
"Aside from the international routes, we are also exploring options to open new domestic routes in the eastern part of Indonesia," AirAsia Indonesia commercial director Iwan Kamaruddin told the media on Thursday (15/12).
AirAsia would be the latest airline seeking to tap the growing number of tourists from Asian countries to the archipelago.
Batik Air, the full-service version of Indonesia's largest budget airline Lion Air, also plans to launch direct flights from Jakarta to Kolkata and Mumbai in India in the third week of December this year.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said limited options for direct flights to Indonesia have prevented more tourists from Asia to visit Indonesia.
Tourism Ministry data showed that 273,000 Indians visited Indonesia in the first nine months this year, up 28 percent from 211,000 in the corresponding period last year.
Opening up the new routes would also cement a turnaround for AirAsia, after Indonesian customers shunned the airline in the aftermath of its first fatal accident in 2014.
The airline saw its seat load factor — which indicates how an airline makes use of its seat capacity — rose to 90 percent in July-September this year from 75 percent in the same period last year.
To support its expansion plans, the company is also expecting delivery of two to three aircraft from Airbus next year.
AirAsia Indonesia and Indonesia AirAsia X operate 19 international routes and 8 domestic routes from Jakarta, Denpasar (Bali), Surabaya (East Java) and Medan (North Sumatra) using 22 Airbus A320s and two Airbus A330s.
AirAsia Indonesia is also diversifying its revenue stream by signing a partnership deal with TAGG, a game app created by a Singapore-based digital company SixCap in which the game logo will appear on the body of AirAsia Indonesia planes.
Neither AirAsia Indonesia nor SixCap would disclose the value of the 18-month sponsorship contract.