Tokyo. Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia resumed direct flights between the resort island of Bali and Tokyo on Tuesday after the Japanese government recently lifted Covid-19 border controls.
Garuda has suspended the lucrative route for nearly two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
An Airbus A330 plane with 150 passengers departed from Narita International Airport at 11:00 a.m. local time for an 8-hour flight to Bali to mark the resumption.
Garuda President Director Irfan Setiaputra said the Bali-Tokyo flights will be expanded for the company’s cargo division to transport export commodities from the eastern part of Indonesia.
Indonesian Ambassador to Japan Heri Akhmadi was present in the ceremony in Garuda’s boarding area at Narita to mark the first Tokyo-Bali flight in two years.
“Direct flights between Tokyo and [Bali capital] Denpasar will accommodate foreign tourists especially those from Japan who want to take a vacation in Bali,” Heri said.
Garuda’s general manager for Japan Sony Sahlan said earlier that the route will see three roundtrip flights per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays to “follow the pattern” of Japanese tourists visiting Bali.
“Two roundtrip flights per week will be cost-inefficient for them, once a week will be too long, so we give them the alternatives to spend three, four, or five days in Bali,” Sony told Antara news agency.
Before the pandemic, Garuda planes flew seven days a week between Bali and Tokyo, he said.
In the last two years, Japanese visitors in Bali had to go to Jakarta for their home flights.
The Japanese government fully reopened the country’s borders on October 11 and has since allowed tourists to enter without visas.