Jetstar has become the first Australian airline to return to Bali almost two years after the pandemic decimated international travel – and other local airlines are expected to follow their lead next month.
More than 300 eager passengers signed up for the flight, which departed from Melbourne on Monday morning.
They were greeted by Balinese dancers at Melbourne Airport and amid the fanfare, the flight was delayed by more than an hour.
Just over a week earlier, Jetstar offered $99 one-way fares to the Indonesian holiday destination as part of a promotion in which 40,000 seats were snapped up in 24 hours.
“Our recent Bali sale saw the biggest surge in bookings we’ve seen since 2016, and our recent surveys have consistently shown that Bali is still the top international destination people want to travel to,” CEO Gareth Evans said on Monday.
Jetstar’s first flight back to Bali was a spectacle at the airport. Photo: Supplied
Jetstar will now operate three weekly flights from Melbourne to Bali, with fares starting at $229 one way and increasing to about $800 on popular dates.
The budget airline will resume Bali flights from Sydney and Perth early next month.
Flights from Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns and Darwin are scheduled for May.
Who else is flying to Bali?
Jetstar is the first Australian airline to return to Bali, but others also have flights scheduled soon.
Qantas had initially eyed late March to resume flights, but has since confirmed its first flights are scheduled for next month instead.
The airline plans on running three flights per week from Melbourne and Sydney from April 14, with even more frequent services later on.
Virgin Australia has not scheduled flights to Bali until June.
Singapore Airlines and Garuda Indonesia also offer flights from Australia to Bali. Photo: Getty
Bali travel specialist Nicki Lawson – who has visited the island 49 times and counting – believes it’s only a matter of time for Australian airlines to start ferrying droves of tourists to Bali again.
After all, Jetstar was formerly the island’s main international airline.
“Peak season for Bali is June to early September,” the travel agent told The New Daily.
“They’ll need planes to get there.”
Some international airlines have already been filling this niche.
Until Monday’s Jetstar flight, Garuda Indonesia had been the only link between Australia and Bali with sporadic flights from Sydney.
Singapore Airlines was another option for eager travellers, albeit with a short stopover along the way.
A few more requirements
Indonesia reopened to Australian tourists in early February but there were hardly any any direct flights from Australia – until now.
But although entry restrictions are gradually easing, planning a holiday to Bali still requires some logistical wrangling.
Fully vaccinated travellers must spend their first three nights at a government-approved hotel.
Fully vaccinated visitors will need to take a PCR test on arrival, among other things. Photo: AAP
Visitors must also take three PCR tests: One before departure, one at the airport upon arrival, and one on day three of the trip.
Indonesia also has its own contract tracing app, Peduli Lindungi.
It’s expected these requirements will continue to be wound back as the tourism industry kicks back into gear.