Lombok not without challenges, says Jetstar

Lombok not without challenges, says Jetstar
By admin


Being the first carrier to operate direct services between Australia and Lombok is no guarantee of its success on the route, Jetstar has admitted.

The low cost carrier this week commenced non-stop Airbus A320 services between Perth and the Indonesian island which lies 150km to the east of Aussie favourite Bali.

The launch of the new route has been six to nine months in the making and follows the opening of Lombok’s new international airport in 2011, Jetstar head of commercial Nigel Fanning told Travel Today.

He said it was a case of “being in the right place at the right time.”

“We’re the first but that’s not by design,” he said.

Other carriers are expected to swiftly follow suit and commence serving the route, which Fanning sees as a “vote of confidence” in Australian demand for travel to the lesser known destination.

But being first does not offer significant advantages, he said, particularly when faced with challenges such as the lack of awareness of both the destination and the new route, along with the need for suitable infrastructure to support a tourism influx.

Although many travellers may see Lombok as a quieter alternative to Bali, Fanning is confident the new route will not cannibalise traffic to the more established destination. Instead, he predicted the new services would grow the overall market, with significant potential for customers to combine both destinations on one trip.

Meanwhile, the airline will closely monitor the route’s performance to assess if there is room for growth.

“If the route is very strong, we will look at adding frequencies on the days that we don’t serve within a relatively short period of time,” Fanning said.

But servicing demand for Lombok from Sydney and Melbourne will be more problematic, he revealed. The longer distance would require an A330 or, in the future, a Boeing 787 until a newer version of the A320 becomes available.

“Those are very big aircraft, so we’d need to fill a lot of seats,” he said. “This market is there to be grown, so we’ll start with a smaller aircraft then if the demand is there we’ll add a larger aircraft.”

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