Indonesia: AP I records 16.9 percent air passenger surge in October following stimulus

State-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura (AP) I recorded 2.16 million passengers in October, a 16.9 percent increase from the month before, after the Transportation Ministry rolled out a stimulus program for the aviation industry.

In addition to the passenger increase, AP I recorded a 10.9 percent month-on-month (mom) increase in air traffic in October to 29,975 flights and a 2.4 percent increase in cargo traffic to 37,988 tons.

AP I president director Faik Fahmi said on Tuesday that the passenger surge was chiefly caused by increasing traveler confidence in air travel, the ministry’s stimulus program, which had allowed ticket prices to be cut, and a long public holiday that started on Oct. 28.

“The passenger traffic increase is being supported by the passenger service charge [PSC] exemption policy rolled out by the government on Oct. 23, which comes alongside the public holiday,” Faik said in a statement.

The Transportation Ministry has put together a stimulus package worth Rp 216.5 billion (US$14.75 million) to help the aviation industry weather the pandemic. The stimulus includes Rp 175.7 billion worth of service fee exemptions and Rp 40.8 billion worth of flight facility calibration subsidies.

The temporary passenger service charge exemption has made flying more affordable for passengers. The exemption was available for flights booked between Oct. 23 and Oct. 31 with scheduled departures before Jan. 1, 2021, at midnight.

The long holiday, which lasted from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, was a major contributor to the passenger hike. More than 453,500 air passengers were recorded in the final week of October, up 17.9 percent from the previous week, according to AP I data.

AP I manages 13 airports in central and eastern Indonesia, including Yogyakarta International Airport in Kulon Progo, Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java, and I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali.

The COVID-19 pandemic has all but frozen tourism and the aviation industry as border closures around the world and movement restrictions in many parts in the country have caused people to cancel travel plans.

Statistics Indonesia data shows that the number of domestic air passengers between January and September fell 58.33 percent year-on-year (yoy) to 23.49 million.

The number of foreign air passengers in the same period plummeted 74.54 percent yoy to 3.5 million. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimated earlier this year that Indonesia’s aviation industry would suffer a 49 percent passenger drop and an $8.2 billion decline in revenue this year as a result of the global health crisis.