The route ended AirAsia’s monopoly on international flights to and from the city, at one time known as the Paris of Java for its culture and architecture. Silk Air will fly the route three times a week.
“Bandung will be our ninth destination in Indonesia” Silk Air CEO Marvin Tan said at a press conference.
“Bandung has a lot of exciting activities like shopping, visiting Mount Tangkuban Perahu, the Ciwidey crater and golfing. Golf in Singapore can be quite expensive, so Singaporeans can golf in Bandung while their wives shop. There are a lot of interesting things in Bandung, that’s why we are keen on promoting Bandung to residents of Singapore.”
Tan is optimistic it will reach an 80 percent occupancy rate for the Bandung-Singapore route, despite the fact that the premium carrier is competing with budget carrier AirAsia.
“Not every passenger cares about the cheap price. There is a market for premium flights,” he said.
The airline offers more space for luggage and services for its passengers. P rices start from $299 for economy class and $739 for business class.
Silk Air also plans to offer passengers travel packages to Bandung in partnership with its sister company, Singapore Airlines, which connects Singapore to major cities in America, Australia and Europe.
“We can accommodate the needs of passengers if they want to continue their travel to Bandung,” Tan said. Tan said he was confident there was also an untapped market for Bandung’s middle- and upper-income households who were willing to pay more for quality services and the ability to connect with Singapore Airlines flights to major cities around the world.
The maiden flight departed from Singapore at 3:55 p.m. local time and upon arriving in Bandung, the Airbus A319 was greeted with a water cannon salute.
West Java’s transportation office chief, Dicky Saromi, welcomed the airport’s newest addition.
“With the opening of a new Silk Air route, it is good news for all of us. We can have more options and the quality of our air transportation will be improved,” he said.
Airport chief Col. Umar Sugeng Haryono said the route would be a positive contribution to the airport and the city.
Bandung has long been a favored destination for Jakartans seeking a weekend escape. The city is known for its scenery, cool temperatures and affordable clothing offered by endless rows of boutiques and factory outlets.
Since direct flights were opened between Kuala Lumpur and Bandung in 2010, Bandung has experienced an influx of international tourists.
Eko Diantoro, general manager of Husein Sastranegara, said about 700 to 800 international visitors arrived in the city each day — mainly from Malaysia and Singapore — exceeding the airport’s intended capacity of about 300 people per day. There are plans for the airport to be expanded by the end of the year, or in early 2012.