Written by @joehairie
Yes, we read a lot and we read Indonesian online news portal like every single day. We do that as we are avid travelers and Indonesia is our preferred country, a place that offers many exciting destinations. Few days ago, Kompas.com (Here is the LINK) published one very ‘sad’ news, announcing that there will be no longer direct service by AirAsia Indonesia from Jakarta-Kinabalu-Jakarta, effective January 10, 2017. The news is even confirmed by Bobby Alex, Marketing Manager of Sabah Tourism Board.
That is a big news for frequent travelers to Jakarta, well, at least for those residing in Kota Kinabalu. We were among the first passengers to go on board the Bali Denpasar route years ago. We did that on yearly basis until the airline decided to ceased operation on the route since June 2016. And now, it’s going to be Jakarta!
While Jakarta is not really a great place to stay for more than 3 nights, we prefer having direct access to Jakarta/CGK Airport as it gives both of us greater options in flying to many routes in Indonesia. There are some easy, most importantly cheap options in getting to other cities in Indonesia in comparison with having to fly to Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Singapore just to get another expensive connection. More budget airlines are servicing cities across Indonesia via Jakarta/CGK Airport.
This news will not affect those in Peninsular Malaysia, be happy, your future travel plans will not be affected. However, those in Kota Kinabalu will later find it much difficult to fly direct to Indonesia. One will need to transit in ‘expensive’ airports, at times for longer hours and that certainly will need extra budget for food/beverages.
The Borneans who have never been to Indonesia especially Jakarta will later be struggling to get extra connections. Not that difficult to buy that tickets, but more money needed to be forked out, spending on things that are not necessary. Bandung for example, a favorite destination among Sabahans. Before 10 January 2017, getting to Bandung is easier.
Fly direct to Jakarta airport and the driver will be waiting at the arrival hall where you will be driven to Bandung. After January 10, 2017, you need to fly to Kuala Lumpur or any other stations that have direct flights to Jakarta or Bandung! Check-in, twice. Waiting time, longer, not to mention possible delays during transit.
While we do understand the business game in airline industry, it is somehow not parallel with the effort by Indonesian Government through their Wonderful Indonesia campaign. Few days ago we read about the Indonesian President, Jokowi of having the possibility to get the Tourism Minister or Menteri Pariwisata (Menpar), Arief Yahya (Here is the LINK) fired if he fail to deliver that targeted 20 million visitors by 2019. I am pretty sure, a little percentage of Malaysians Sabah Borneo will be thinking twice to visit Indonesia as they will later to have no direct access to Jakarta or Bali.
It will somehow reduce Indonesian visitors to Sabah. Same as Malaysians, Indonesia travelers to Sabah will think twice before coming as they need to transit either in Singapore, Johor Bahru or Kuala Lumpur. It might be all right for single traveler, but not large group, big family for example.
Common sense will tell them that the portions for the fare on another connection to Kinabalu might as well be spent on the entrance fees to Universal Studios in Singapore, after all Singapore is the most favorite spot for Indonesian Travelers. Or perhaps, use that extra money for more comfortable accommodation in Kuala Lumpur, going for shopping spree or something.
We have long regard Bali as our 2nd home. We went to Bali like every year but we stopped that since June 2016 when there are no longer direct flights to Bali from Kinabalu. We don’t think it is wise to spend more money in getting tickets from a transit airport. Imagine this.
A direct flight from Kinabalu to Denpasar Bali takes 2 hours and 30 minutes. The most logical connection to Bali now is via Kuala Lumpur. It means we need to fly to Kuala Lumpur for 2 hours and 30 minutes and another 3 hours for the Kuala Lumpur-Bali route. This does not include the transit time and possible expenses in KLIA2. So, will we go to Bali again? Sure, but we will not pay for the tickets. Someone else has to do that for us, not us, pardon us.
Regarding Jakarta, everyone knows that it is possible for travelers to get to other cities in Java Island via land transportation, easy way to keep traveling process under budget (though time consuming). There are tour companies who are willing to take you end to end or simply board the already efficient train that will get you even up to Banyuwangi. Bad news to those backpacking from Kinabalu, you have to pay more for extra connection from a transit airport, that’s how we see it.
It’s not a win-win situation, not even for AirAsia. ‘Everyone will lose’ from the Tourism Agencies in both countries, Tour agents, travelers, every single person. No one get anything be it in Jakarta, Indonesia or Kinabalu,Sabah. There might be a little profit for AirAsia group though, as Borneans will now have to puchase additional AirAsia tickets when traveling to Indonesia It will somehow makes people wonder why AirAsia just love to introduce new routes and later discontinued certain services only because they are not doing well enough in getting revenue. Well, we all can’t blame AirAsia, they are just doing business.
However, as we have mentioned previously, travelers from Sabah, Northern Borneo, Malaysia are the one who will lose more. They will lose the opportunity to get cheaper and direct access to Jakarta starting January 10, 2017. We hope it s a temporary decision and AirAsia Indonesia will re-introduce the Jakarta-Kinabalu-Jakarta route again, fingers crossed. For now, we both are eyeing on the other direct international flights out of Kinabalu, obviously not any of Indonesia city, unless we are being sponsored!
Goodbye Bali and Jakarta, for now, we do hope to be in that 2 great places again in the near future.
Sad but thinking positively,
The curiostraveller.com team.