Officials in Bali pledged in October 2021 that they would allow travelers from 19 countries to enter Bali International airport who satisfied WHO guidelines, such as keeping their COVID-19 cases under control. The promise, however, was only recently fulfilled on Thursday, when Garuda Indonesia began its first direct international flight to Bali after staying closed for nearly two years.
With only eight passengers on board, the flight from Tokyo’s Narita Airport (NRT) was a low-key return of foreign planes to Bali. Six of the passengers on business visas were Japanese travel agents.
Currently, Bali offers two additional PPLN quarantine options: bubble quarantine, which begins at five hotels with a total of 447 rooms and six live onboard ships that have been certified by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy for Cleanliness, Health, Safety, and Environmental Sustainability (CHSE).
In the most recent 24-hour period, Indonesia recorded 33,729 new coronavirus infections and 44 fatalities. Since the outbreak, the country has had around 4.5 million cases in total.
The country’s most recent outbreak, caused by the highly pathogenic omicron variant, has been centered mostly in Jakarta, but infections have “increased significantly” in Java and Bali in recent days, according to Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, who leads the COVID-19 response in Java and Bali.
Bali international airport in 2018
In 2018, I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali handled over 24 million passengers before the outbreak. After COVID-19 slammed the world’s fourth most populated country in 2020, the island was closed to international flights. It had previously only been closed during the yearly Nyepi festival (Day of Silence) or when volcanic ash has been spewed into the atmosphere.
Kuta, Ubud, and Sanur, which were once bustling tourist destinations, remain deserted, with closed stores, cafés, and restaurants on both sides of the road. In the windows, unclothed mannequins stand idle. The shelves are empty. Clubs and beach clubs are shuttered and unattended, giving the area a ghostly atmosphere.
Bali international airport shows life
Meanwhile, Garuda Indonesia aims to continue the same flight path from Narita to Bali on a weekly basis along with Singapore Airlines that will also launch daily flights sometime in the middle of February. Jakarta’s Batik Air, is also intending to restore service between Denpasar and Singapore in the near future, though no specific date has been set. Also, Singapore Airlines will operate daily flights between Singapore and Denpasar starting on February 16.
The reopening of Bali to all passengers will hopefully help build back the island’s economy, which has been severely impacted by the pandemic.
Brief history and facts about Bali international airport
I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, located 13 kilometers south of Denpasar, is Bali’s primary airport and Indonesia’s second busiest airport, behind Jakarta’s Soekarno–Hatta International Airport.
The airport is named after I Gusti Ngurah Rai, an Indonesian national hero who was awarded the Bintang Mahaputrais star, which is the highest civilian honor, after being killed in a puputan (fight to the death) against the Dutch on November 20, 1946, during the Indonesian Revolution.
The current airport has an east–west aligned runway projecting aircraft’s westward above the sea while also disrupting natural sand flow along Bali’s beaches.
Already overwhelmed with an increase of passenger loads by 1975, a new international passenger terminal was constructed by 1978, turning the previous international terminal into the current domestic terminal, while the old domestic terminal was converted into a new international terminal.
The airport, serviced 23,779,178 passengers in 2018 and is now capable of accommodating wide-body aircraft’s such as the Boeing 747-8 and Airbus A380.
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