Singapura to Jayapura

Last updated: June 6, 2011
Fort Rotterdam

Garuda Indonesia commences flights between Makassar and Singapore, aiming to reduce travel times to the remote cities of East Indonesia.

On 1 June 2011, Garuda Indonesia began daily flights between Makassar (a.k.a. Ujung Pandang) and Singapore, using Boeing 737-500 aircraft with a capacity of 96 passengers.

Here is the schedule:

Flight Number Route Departs Arrives
GA848 Makassar to Singapore 15:00 17:50
GA849 Singapore to Makassar 18:50 22:00

It was widely reported that Garuda’a new route is:

in line with the carrier’s plans to develop Makassar as its third domestic hub after Jakarta and Bali, and as a gateway to East Indonesia.

Flights To/From Makassar Newspaper advertisements for Garuda – see right for an excerpt – have also promoted Garuda’s strategy of increasing the number of flights and routes to/from Makassar. The lines in red denote new routes. (Click on the image to see full-size).

Makassar, we have a problem

Yet the new flight’s schedule has an issue: to create a successful hub airport, an airline needs to have good connection times to other flights. In real English, passengers travelling via a hub airport shouldn’t have to wait a long time between their international flight and the connecting domestic flight, or vice versa.

And everyone – Garuda management included – seems to have forgotten this, creating a schedule that either has poor connection times or misses Garuda’s connecting domestic flights all together.

The flight from Singapore (or “Singapura” in Bahasa Indonesia) to Makassar arrives at 10pm. By the time visitors have bought a tourist visa and changed terminals, there are virtually no domestic flights to connect to.

The only flight with a good connection is Garuda’s red-eye special overnight flight from Jakarta to Biak and Jayapura, which transits Makassar at 1am.

This means visitors wishing to travel from Singapore to e.g. Gorontalo will have a compulsory overnight stopover in Makassar – incurring the additional expense of a hotel room – before continuing their journey the next day. (It might also be possible to sleep at the airport, but it is not known whether this is permitted, let alone comfortable or safe.)

TorajaTourists also arrive too late for an overnight bus to South Sulawesi’s biggest attraction – Tana Toraja – at the nearby bus terminal, adding a day to their journey too.

Once again, only the flight from Jayapura to Makassar connects nicely. Flights from Manado, Kendari, Gorontalo, etc. all arrive too late to connect for passengers to Garuda’s flight to Singapore, and from Ambon far too early.

What is the solution – other airlines?

Unfortunately, there are very few domestic flights on any airline from Makassar in the middle of the night, only flights to Jayapura or Sorong at 3 or 4am.

You could fly Air Asia to Makassar from Kuala Lumpur instead, but it arrives at 5pm. This is also too late for most connecting domestic flights to East Indonesia, but is at least a more passenger-friendly hour of the day.

However, tourists flying back from East Indonesia to Singapore have more choice: other airlines with better connection times.

Raja AmpatFor example, you can fly Batavia Air to Makassar from Sorong, the nearest airport to the increasingly famous Raja Ampat diving paradise in West Papua.

Airline Flight
Batavia Air Y6-846 10:20 11:20

togean-islands-sulawesi-indonesiaSimilarly, you could fly Lion Air to Makassar from Gorontalo, where you get the boat to the Togean Islands, Central Sulawesi’s #1 tourist attraction.

Airline Flight
Lion Air JT793 11:05 12:30

You can view the Makassar Airport Wikipedia page for a more general guide of other airlines’ flights to/from Makassar.

Is Garuda’s Hub in Makassar Doomed to Failure?

Some would also argue that Garuda’s strategy of increasing flights from Makassar to East Indonesia has a competitive disadvantage compared to Indonesia’s other government-owned airline:

Merpati Nusantara Airways
Merpati Nusantara Airlines

Merpati’s mission is to serve remote cities/destinations – especially in East Indonesia – and recently moved its headquarters to Makassar. It operates several flights from Makassar that no other airline operates; some of the more useful routes for visitors are Makassar to Kupang (West Timor), Makassar to Maumere (Flores), and Makassar to Yogyakarta direct.

Merpati Unique Flight Map
Useful Routes Only Flown By Merpati Airways

Sometimes, Merpati also receives government subsidies to maintain routes that are necessary (because there are no other air, road or sea links) but unprofitable. Garuda is majority owned by the government, but does not receive government subsidies in this way.

Merpati already operates flights on many of Garuda’s new routes from Makassar to remote cities in East Indonesia. If budget-conscious travellers prefer the cheaper no-frills service of Merpati to the more expensive full-service of Garuda, Garuda’s new flights to/from Makassar may quickly become unprofitable.

In conclusion, for its new Makassar hub to be successful in encouraging more tourists to visit Makassar and its more remote areas in the east of the country, Garuda will need to reconsider and reconfigure its flight times between Makassar and Singapore, along with its domestic connecting flights. Alternately, Garuda could give passengers a free Makassar hotel stay in both directions; however, that is unlikely to happen because it would be prohibitively expensive.

But without any further action, Garuda’s competitors will continue to have an advantage, and Makassar’s “great expectation” (sic) of becoming a successful Garuda hub airport will fail.


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6 Comments on “Singapura to Jayapura”

  1. David says:

    My spawn have mentioned the Trans Studio theme park in Makassar, that might be something they could promote there to entice more Singaporeans at least, though yes the 10 pm arrival time isn’t going to help.

  2. Oigal says:

    My spawn?? I know it’s a reasonable description of the fruit of the loins but why am i reminded of dark, scary movies…too many dvd’s I guess

  3. Chris says:

    Hi David,

    Yes, Makassar now has a theme park, but I’m guessing the new Universal Studios themepark in Singapore is better/more popular.

    I didn’t write this originally but maybe one reason Garuda picked Makassar as a hub city is because only business people stay in Makassar; for tourists, it is mostly a transit point for people to see other nearby tourist attractions.

    Then again, it is not alone in this. You could make a list of such cities:

    Makassar – Tana Toraja

    Medan – Lake Toba

    Surabaya – Until recently, Mt Bromo (now there is the Bali Bromo Express between Bali and Malang)

    Padang – Mentawai, Bukittinggi

    Bandarlampung – Anak Krakatau

    Mataram – Gili Islands, Mt Rinjani

    Manado – Bunaken

    Labuan Bajo – Komodo Island

    Ende, Maumere – Mt Kelimutu

  4. fabian says:

    Well, some day I wish to visit both Makassar and Sarawak…

    -Are there good connections between those places ?

    Another interesting thing is, if , as a foreign turist, probably I should enter via Jakarta or Kuala LUmpur, visit the neighbour country, and return to Indonesia or Malaysia…-What is the best way, entering the area via Indonesia or via Malaysia ?

    I am from Uruguay, Southamerica, and many people here fly to India via Southafrica, but also people go to Australia or New Zealand via Chile…

  5. Chris says:

    Hi Fabian,

    Thanks for your comment.

    You asked:

    Well, some day I wish to visit both Makassar and Sarawak…
    -Are there good connections between those places ?

    Until recently, Makassar’s only international flight was an Air Asia service to Kuala Lumpur.

    Currently the only flight from Indonesia to Sarawak is a Batavia Air flight from Jakarta to Kuching, via Pontianak. According to the Pontianak Airport Wikipedia page, Malaysia Airlines is awaiting statutory approval to also fly from Jakarta to Pontianak.

    Another interesting thing is, if , as a foreign turist, probably I should enter via Jakarta or Kuala LUmpur, visit the neighbour country, and return to Indonesia or Malaysia…-What is the best way, entering the area via Indonesia or via Malaysia ?

    I could be wrong, but I believe that Uruguay (unlike e.g. Argentina and Brazil) isn’t on the list of 62 countries able to purchase the 30-day tourist visa (a.k.a. visa on arrival) for $US25. You would need to consult the Indonesian Embassy in Uruguay or apply for a tourist visa at the Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia before you arrive in Indonesia.

    Regardless of where/how you get a visa, it’s difficult enough that I recommend you only enter and leave Indonesia one time.

  6. fabian says:

    Chris, thankyou for the info !!!

    Perhaps in the future, there would be some flight convenient from Sarawak to Makassar

    By the way, here in Montevideo there is a honorary consul of Indonesia, but the embassy is in Argentina…Indonesis is virtually and unknown place, even if I have met many seamen in the floating shipyard where I worked, but people look at them and think they are chinese or korean…

    You are right about entering only once to Indonesia,,,maybe I can enter from Pontianak to Makassar, then return via another country, if there is also difficult to enter Malaysia,then going Indonesia then returning to Malaysia again…it seems complicated

    Thankyou anyway

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