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Aussie tourists streaming back to Bali sunshine
September 21st, 2007

By Steve Creedy

TWO bombings, drug arrests and debate about air safety in Indonesia have failed to deter Australian tourists.

It seems Bali is back.

According to Garuda Indonesia, flight schedules between Sydney and Bali that added 3000 seats to the route have been a resounding success and its new Sydney flight is recording average loading of 90 per cent.

The airline’s high load factors reflect a rise of more than 50 per cent to 85,860 in the number of Australians visiting Bali in the first half of the year. The record, 267,500, was set in 2004.

Bali is Australia’s fourth most popular holiday destination behind New Zealand, Thailand and the US.

Western Australia and Victoria are performing well for Garuda, which flies from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Darwin, but Western Australia remains Bali’s biggest holiday market.

“Our Perth services, expanded this year to include direct Jakarta flights, are encountering extremely high demand, and agents and consumers alike have learned that early booking is essential,” Garuda Southwest Pacific general manager Suranto Yitnopawiro said. “This is quite different to the past trend towards last-minute booking.”

Bali is proving to be Jetstar’s second strongest international service, after New Zealand, and the long-haul low-cost carrier will add two more Sydney-Denpasar flights next month.

“Bali is performing extremely well and we’re ahead of expectations,” Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway said. “We’re pleased with the existing and overall forward outlook.

“That’s why we’ve put on an additional two weekly return services out of Sydney.

“From the end of October we’ll be operating four times weekly services out of Sydney while maintaining twice-weekly Melbourne services.”

Mr Westaway said the airline wanted to fly daily services to Bali but it was limited in what it could do until its Boeing 787s arrived next year.

This year’s optimistic outlook contrasts sharply with the outlook this time last year.

Last October, Bali’s tourism officials were accusing Australian authorities of discriminating against the island by an “ongoing frenzy” of travel warnings and Garuda was considering halting direct flights to Bali from Australia’s east coast.

The growth in Bali’s popularity is helping to improve Garuda’s bottom line.

Last month, the Indonesian airline lifted its profit expectations after a 141 per cent growth in first-half earnings.

Garuda reported a 148 billion rupiah ($18.7 billion) profit in the half-year to June.
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