Airline operator Merpati Nusantara Airlines plans to open a new route linking Lombok and Sumbawa next month, an executive at the state-controlled company said on Tuesday.
“Beginning in mid-August, Merpati will open a new route between Lombok and Sumbawa with a frequency of two return flights in a week,” Merpati official Herry Saptanto said in a statement.
Lombok and Sumbawa islands are located in West Nusa Tenggara. Lombok is one of Indonesia’s top tourist destinations after Bali.
Herry said the flights would be on Tuesday and Friday, leaving Lombok at 2:20 p.m. and leaving Sumbawa at 3:30 p.m.
Airline officials signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday with the Sumbawa district government for the new route as well as the opening of Merpati training facilities for young people from Sumbawa.
“Merpati will be present in Sumbawa carrying on two functions, as a catalyst for accelerating economic growth and at the same time being a binder of national unity,” Herry said.
Merpati is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. The airline now relies on a fleet of Chinese MA-60 aircraft made by Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation, each with 56 seats. Herry said the MA-60 was the product of various components by renowned producers from countries such as the United States and Canada.
Merpati Nusantara Airlines typically serves less-profitable routes in Indonesia, such as far-flung Flores Island in East Nusa Tenggara and the Kei Islands in northeast Maluku.