“This is the first direct air link between the two countries. The new air route will boost bilateral relations, tourism and enhance the ASEAN integration process,” Vietnamese Ambassador to Indonesia Nguyen Xuan Thuy said during the grand opening of the new route at Hotel Borobudur in Jakarta on Wednesday.
“This will ignite a new interest among businesspeople in both countries.”
The airline said it would increase the frequency of the flights due to growing demand.
“Vietnam Airlines plans to increase the number of flights on the Ho Chi Minh City-Jakarta route to seven a week from the current number of four flights per week,” the carrier’s vice president, Trinh Ngoc Thanh, said.
According to Vietnam Airlines general manager in Indonesia Nghiem Van Khanh, the first flight from Ho Chi Minh City landed at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Dec. 2 with 143 passengers.
“It’s a three-hour flight between the two cities,” Nghiem said.
Vietnam Airlines, a SkyTeam partner, recently launched another new route to the Chinese city of Chengdu.
With the addition of this new flight, Jakarta is now connected to six ASEAN countries. Indonesia has yet to connect to Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.
The airline, Nghiem said, was using Airbus A31 planes for the new route between Indonesia and Vietnam. The flight is available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Flights will depart from Ho Chi Minh City 10 a.m., arriving in Jakarta at 1 p.m., and leave Jakarta for Ho Chi Minh City at 1:45 p.m.
A local tour operator said that Vietnam Airlines was offering a special promotional price of US$300 for a return ticket to Ho Chi Minh City.
Economic relations between Vietnam and Indonesia are rapidly progressing ahead of the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015. In 2011, bilateral trade surged to US$4.73 billion, a significant increase from $3.08 billion in 2010. In the first nine months of this year, trade remained at a healthy level of $3.50 billion despite of global slowdown in international trade.
Veeramalla Anjaiah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Business | Sat, December 15 2012, 2:58 PM