While the rise of budget airlines has made domestic air travel available to a much greater percentage of Indonesians, an anomaly in ticket fares has reportedly pushed a large number of people living in the northwestern province of Aceh to get passports just for the purpose of flying to Jakarta because the fare on flights transiting through Kuala Lumpur is significantly cheaper than direct flights to the capital.
A member of the House of Representatives (DPR) from Aceh, Teuku Taufiqulhadi, said that many Acehenese have started to get passports to take advantage of the cheaper international transit tickets, a situation he said the government should be embarrassed for allowing.
“If they go directly from Aceh to Jakarta, the ticket can be more than IDR 2 million (USS140). But if they go through Kuala Lumpur, they can get a ticket for less than IDR 2 million,” Taufiq said in a statement on Sunday as picked up by Detik.
Taufiq went on to say that if the situation was allowed to continue, the transportation agency would be “discredited” and the country would be “laughed at”. He finished by asking the Ministry of Transportation to pay close to attention to the issue.
Another DPR member representing Aceh, Asrizal Asnawi, said lawmakers were powerless to fix the situation because “unwise” regulations from the Ministry of Transportation were the main cause of the high fares on the domestic route. He also lamented the fact that getting their passports was another financial burden being placed on Aceh’s citizens.
However, it looks like the issue may soon be alleviated, as two airlines, Garuda Indonesia and Batik Air, are said to be in the process of cutting the fares on tickets from Banda Aceh to Jakarta significantly.
Tengku Burhanudin, secretary general of the Indonesia National Air Carriers Association (INACA) said that Garuda Indonesia would be slashing prices on the route from IDR 3.2 million to IDR 1.6 million, while Batik Air (a subsidiary of Lion Air) would likely cut their current fare of IDR 2.8 million to IDR 1.5 million.
Tengku attributed the decrease in fares to “contributions from relevant stakeholders” but did not specify beyond that.