First International Flight In Nearly Two Years Lands In Bali

Bali’s first international flight in nearly two years touched down on Thursday. The Garuda Indonesia Airbus A330 touched down at Bali’s Denpasar Airport (DPS) after flying in from Tokyo Narita (NRT). However, it was a low-key return of international flights to Bali – just eight passengers were onboard. Of that number, six were Japanese travel agents traveling on business visas.

Airlines mostly fail to return to Bali

In 2019, about six million foreigners jetted into Bali. The money those travelers spent and the jobs they generated accounted for 54% of Bali’s economy. Since the airlines stopped flying in and the tourists dried up, locals have found themselves without jobs and businesses struggled to find customers.


While Bali reopened to tourists from several countries in October, a compulsory hotel quarantine regime kept tourists and airlines away. The island is opening to fully vaccinated travelers from all countries on Friday, February 4. However, a hotel quarantine period of up to seven days still applies.

Unlike the lackluster October partial reopening, some airlines are tentatively preparing to operate some international flights into Denpasar Airport this time around. Garuda Indonesia plans to run weekly flights down from Narita, with Thursday’s arrival being the first of them. Singapore Airlines will resume daily flights in mid-February. Jakarta-based Batik Air is also planning to fly the Denpasar-Singapore route shortly, although that airline has not confirmed a resumption date.

From February 16, a Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 will begin flying the 1,037 mile (1,668 kilometers) Singapore – Denpasar route every day.

“The resumption of daily flights to Bali is part of SIA’s long-term commitment to growing the Indonesian tourism industry,said Alvin Seah, the General Manager Indonesia of Singapore Airlines


Garuda Indonesia operated its first international flight into Bali in nearly two years on Thursday. Photo: Getty Images

Lightly loaded first flight to Bali

Until the 2020 border closure, Australians were Bali’s biggest inbound market. Over 1.2 million Australians cluttered up the island in 2019. Australia’s Jetstar tentatively plans to resume flying to Bali from Sydney and Melbourne on March 1 but has indicated it may bring those flights forward. Jetstar’s full-service sibling airline Qantas has flights scheduled to Bali from the end of March.

While Australians are free to travel to and from Bali subject to flight availability, Bali’s second-biggest inbound market is China. But the Chinese are not yet able to resume freely flying to Bali.

At 4.30pm on Thursday, GA881 landed in Denpasar after nearly eight hours in the air. The operating aircraft, PK-GPW, was an Airbus A330-300 that can seat 251 passengers across two cabin classes. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has confirmed six of the eight passengers were travel agents on paid for familiarization trips, aka junkets. Just two passengers were regular passengers.


Singapore Airlines is resuming daily flights to Bali from February 16. Photo: Singapore Airlines

Quarantine may deter Bali-bound travelers

“Those who arrive on Thursday have requested to quarantine at the Grand Hyatt Hotel,” said Secretary of the Bali Province COVID-19 Task Force Made Rentin this week. That’s a tasty beachside resort and a swell place to camp five days, given quarantining guests have the run of the hotel, including restaurants and pools. All travelers to Bali must download a check-in app that will alert authorities if travelers venture out of their designated quarantine hotel.

Nice hotel or not, the quarantine regime is likely to discourage all but the keenest travelers. Regional neighbors like the Philippines and Thailand are letting fully vaccinated travelers fly in and bypass quarantine.

With much-needed tourists likely to head elsewhere while the quarantine regime remains in place, the requirement may be short-lived. Bali and its airport will start seeing traveler numbers rise when that happens.

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