JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has launched new flights to Papua and West Papua, two of the country’s most remote provinces on its eastern frontier.
Garuda Indonesia President Director Irfan Setiaputra announced that the flights, which will go to Makassar, South Sulawesi, Manokwari, West Papua, and Sorong, West Papua, was officially launched on Wednesday, December 9.
“The Makassar-Manokwari-Sorong flight will take off twice a week on Tuesdays and Sundays from Jakarta on a Bombardier CRJ-1000 airliner,” he said in a press release.
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“This new route can improve networks between Papua and East Papua. We also hope it can bring about an economic stimulus to develop tourism and other economic sectors in Papua and West Papua.
“For instance, Manokwari is known for the beauty of its marine life, while Sorong is the gateway to [Raja Ampat], West Papua’s premier tourist destination.”
He assured that the airline will enforce health protocols on the touch points of this route, as with other destinations, as Indonesia continues to be gripped by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“[Garuda] will work closely with stakeholders in the tourist industry, among them travelers and the government, to provide a safe and comfortable flight experience,” Irfan said.
West Papua governor Dominggus Mandacan hailed the opening of the routes.
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“The Garuda flights towards Manokwari and Sorong is in line with West Papua’s aim of developing its tourism potential to draw local and foreign tourists," he said. "I hope the flight can provide access by air to more parts of Papua.”
Tourism in Papua and West Papua are long hampered by the ongoing insurgency that has pitted Free Papua Movement separatists against Indonesian military and police forces, the frequently unfavorable terrain, and high cost of tickets to go there from Jakarta.
The two provinces are also off limits to foreigners, despite President Joko Widodo's assertions to the contrary.
(Writer: Yohana Artha Uly | Editor: Ambaranie Nadia Kemala Movanita)
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