Air Travel Subsidized: West Nusa Tenggara

West Nusa Tenggara provincial administration will provide Rp 2.2 billion (US$244,444) cash assistance to help subsidize inter-regency flight in the province for a year, it was announced Tuesday.

Governor HL Serinata and Trigana Air director Junila George Jana signed a memorandum of understanding on the assistance, which is intended to enable people to travel across the province more easily.

The funds were provided to the company through the 2007 budget. The cash will finance operation of Mataram-Sumbawa-Bima flight routes for a year.

Three aircraft were set aside by Trigana to serve the routes.
The cash assistance is also intended to subsidize ticket prices, with a 25 percent discount being applied to the regular price.

The governor said the subsidy was provided by the administration to open up access and ease people’s mobility in the province.

“We are among the archipelagic provinces. The subsidy is meant to enable people to use fast transportation,” he said.

He said better transportation was expected to help develop the local economy.

“Many regions in the province are hard to reach. We hope through the subsidy there will be no more gaps in the region’s development and potency,” said Serinata.

Passengers currently have to take land transportation such as trucks and buses from Mataram to reach Sumbawa and Bima. There is also only one sea line connecting Lombok and Sumbawa, the Lombok-Poto Tano crossing.

Trigana Air will run three Airbus ATR 42 planes with a capacity of 46 passengers each on the routes.

Junila said the routes are promising. Trigana has served the Mataram-Denpasar for the past two years.

“The province has big potential and opening up the routes will help development to progress,” he said.

Head of the West Nusa Tenggara Transportation Office, Sekartaji Anwar, said the new flights will start on July 15.

“The flights will be three times a week,” he said.

He said the subsidy had helped cut ticket prices, from the usual Rp 360,000 per person to Rp 270,000 from Mataram-Sumbawa; and Rp 475,000 to fly from Mataram-Bima becoming Rp 350,000.

It is hoped that the routes will mirror the success of Air Trigana in East Nusa Tenggara, where the airline has served 12 regencies for three years.

Panca Nugraha