Thresa Sandra Desfika, Jakarta – National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia and its budget airline Citilink began implementing flight fare cuts on 10 tourist destination on Sunday to follow a government directive aimed at keeping the tourism industry afloat amid the global coronavirus fears.
The government has earlier announced subsidies of at least $744 million for workers, airlines, hotels and regional governments in the country's major tourist destinations to counter the economic slowdown expected as fallout from the Covid-19 outbreak.
Garuda said it will spare 65,000 seats at discounted fares per month on domestic flights to Batam Island, Bali, Yogyakarta, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara, Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, Malang in East Jaba, Manado in North Sulawesi, Toba in north Sumatra, Tanjung Pandan in Bangka Belitung and Tanjung Pinang in Riau Islands.
Garuda president director Irfan Setiaputra said the state airline was in full support of the government's program to ease the bitter impacts from falling international travels since the coronavirus outbreak in China last month.
The government has allocated Rp 443 billion ($31.9 million) from the state budget to reduce ticket fares on domestic flights by 30 percent, and asked state-run oil company Pertamina and airport operators Angkasa Pura and Airnav to offer incentives to reduce fuel and ground handling costs, the key components in determining ticket fares.
The combined measures are expected to allow air fare cuts by up to 50 percent on the 10 particular destinations.
"According to the government directive, the air fare cuts to the 10 destinations apply for three months, from March 1 to May 31," Irfan said in a statement.
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said earlier the air fare cut policy is applicable to 25 percent of seats per flight, totaling 430,000 seats during the three months.
In addition, a budget of nearly Rp 300 billion has been allocated for a program to lure international visitors, including Rp 98.5 billion set aside for domestic airlines and travel agencies so they can provide discounts for foreign tourists.