Indonesian carrier Kalstar Aviation has launched flights between the country’s capital city Jakarta and Kuching, the capital and most populous city of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak and the largest city on the island of Borneo. The new daily link was inaugurated on May 23 and is being operated using a recently acquired Boeing 737-300 via Pontianak, the capital of the province of West Kalimantan on the Indonesian side of the island.
Kalstar is one of eight Asian carriers to provide service to Kuching, and will face direct competition from Batavia Air on the route. Its Indonesian rival carried an estimated 16,500 O&D passengers between Kuching and Pontianak in the past year, with around 110,000 flying between Pontianak and Jakarta, a route also flown by Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air and until its recent closure, Mandala Airlines. A total of approximately 350,000 point-to-point travellers have utilised the route in the last year, up 0.9 per cent on the previous 12 month period.
“Malaysia Airports (MAB) welcomes Kalstar’s operations to KIA and wishes them all the best for this service. We are delighted with this as it offers connection to Jakarta, with stopover at Pontianak, which will benefit passengers from Sarawak in terms of choices,” said Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad, Managing Director, Malaysia Airports. The airport operator is reportedly providing a lot of marketing support to the new route, including heavily discounted landing fees for the first three years, as well as six months free rental of office space within the main terminal building at Kuching International Airport.
“We started the route because there is demand to come here, especially for tourism, medical and education. Now people can travel between Jakarta and Kuching in a shorter time compared to other airlines. It will take about 3 hours, including transit time,” said Aditya Wardana, Vice President, Kalstar Aviation, adding that the carrier hopes to develop traffic on the Pontianak-Kuching route too.