Banda Bound

Last updated: December 12, 2014
banda-beach

The latest information on travel to the Banda Islands.

NEWSFLASH

Aviastar flights between Ambon and Banda are suspended indefinitely, starting 25 December 2014. We will advise if/when they have recommenced. If you wish to travel to/from Banda, it is recommended you travel by boat – see below for the schedule – or combine boats and flights via Tual or Saumlaki.

Aviastar is now offering flights between Ambon and Banda 3 days/week: Monday, Thursday, Sunday. The flight to Banda departs Ambon at 07:00. Aviastar tickets can be purchased 10-30 days in advance, but it is a small plane with 16 seats. Please note: it is very difficult to get flight tickets. If possible, we recommend travel by boat to avoid disappointment.

Pelni operates boats on this route, an average of 2-3 times per month. The Pelni schedule is known up to six weeks in advance.

Upcoming boats, Ambon to Banda:

21 Dec, 4 & 18 Jan

Upcoming boats, Banda to Ambon:

23 & 26 Dec, 9 & 23 Jan

for the period to 25 January 2015

For Aviastar and Pelni, the tickets are paper tickets, so our Pick Me Up greeter for Ambon would buy the tickets and hand-deliver them to you at either Ambon Airport (when you arrive) or at your Ambon hotel.

Flight Enquiry | Boat Enquiry

Snorkelling around the Banda Islands is famous, and rightly considered a highlight of Indonesia.

Classic Bandaneira PortraitThe only problem: getting there.

Centuries ago, European ships travelled for months to the Banda Islands, to trade for the lucrative spice, nutmeg. The promise of untold riches drew many, who would die on the journey due to malnutrition (scurvy) and disease.

These days, it is not quite that difficult. Now that tourist visas (a.k.a. visa on arrival) can be extended to 60 days, the biggest issue for planning a trip to the Banda Islands is frequency and reliability.

Pelni ships travel from Ambon to Banda once or twice a month, and the schedule is available on its website up to just six weeks in advance.

Flights CancelledFlights from Ambon to Bandaneira in the past have been unreliable, even by Indonesian standards.

However, some intrepid travellers have reported that lately the current service by local airline Nusantara Buana Air (or NBA) is more dependable. Here is the schedule:

Route Days Of Operation Departure Time
Ambon to Bandaneira Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays 07:00
Bandaneira to Ambon Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays 09:00

NBA uses CASA C-212 aircraft and has a 10kg baggage allowance. If you’re bringing dive gear, excess baggage is Rp10 000 (a little over $US1) per kg.

Please note that no flight from Jakarta to Ambon arrives early enough to allow passengers to transit Ambon and head directly to Bandaneira the same day; you will need to stay one night at a hotel in Ambon. (You may also want to stow some luggage there to be under 10kg for the flight). Below are some of the more well-known and comfortable choices:


View Ambon Airport, Port and Hotels in a larger map
Ambon Airport and Ambon City are on opposite sides
of the horseshoe-shaped Ambon Bay.

Still unsure? Here is some NBA passenger feedback:

Travelled to the Banda Islands in late October and thought we might have to resort to ferries if the plane didn’t operate. In fact the flight, both there and back a month later, ran perfectly to time and we had no problems at all.
Banda Islands from airThe crew were efficient, the flight perfectly comfortable and the fact that it is a small propellor plane meant that we cruised at the perfect height for taking some really good photos of The Bandas (see example above).

Margy, UK

The flight was smooth and just a little noisy. The pilot came around and shook everyone’s hand before take-off, which was a nice touch.

Sarah, USA

If you are interested in booking a flight to Bandaneira, please fill in an enquiry form.

Please note that NBA flight tickets from Bandaneira to Ambon can only be purchased in Bandaneira; the best time to do that would be upon arrival at Bandaneira Airprt. If you are worried about being stranded, check the Pelni ship schedule or ask your hotel in Bandaneira for assistance.



20 Comments on Banda Bound

  1. avatar Luko Says:
    January 23rd, 2013 at 5:51 am

    I was one of the pissed off tourists who was hoping to spend Xmas diving in Banda and who got surprized after NBA decision to suspend all flights on the Ambon-Bandaneira route from dec.23th. 2012

    From I have heard it is more serious than the usual NBA january flight gap, which is always resuming end of february as it is generally due to a delay on the subsidy agreement with the regional govt.
    It came to my ears NBA was almost bankrupt because they had to refund a hefty amount of advance subsidies. Meanwhile another carrier might be interested for plying the route, providing the fares will be increased.

    What are the news for Ambon-Bandaneira flights lately? Any hope for March/April?

  2. avatar Chris Says:
    January 23rd, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Hi Luko,

    Thanks for the update.

    It appears NBA flights are now suspended until at least February, and possibly indefinitely; see related post on Lonely Planet ThornTree.

  3. avatar Chris Says:
    May 8th, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    A new post on Thorn Tree says that Merpati is now flying from Ambon to Banda at 7am on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.

    Our “man on the ground” (and Pick Me Up greeter) in Ambon has confirmed it is true.

  4. avatar HK Chong Says:
    May 19th, 2013 at 5:23 am

    Nothing on the Merpati website indicated that they are servicing the Ambon – Banda Naira routing. NBA has a website but no online booking facility and I cannot see from their website if they have resumed flights to Banda Naira.

    Anybody out there with more recent updates…or is Pelni the only way to go.

  5. avatar Chris Says:
    May 19th, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Dear HK Chong,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I agree that there is no mention on the Merpati website. I also asked about the flight at the Merpati office here, and they said there was nothing on their system for this route.

    However, there may be a reason for this. Routes that are considering necessary for economic/social development, a.k.a. “pioneer routes”, receive government subsidies and cannot be booked like other routes. It may be that these tickets can only be booked on site, in Ambon or Bandaneira, and only a relatively short time in advance (up to 1 month).

    Fortunately, we have a partner travel agent in Ambon who can assist our clients.

    If you are interested in booking a flight to Bandaneira, please fill in an enquiry form.

  6. avatar HK Chong Says:
    August 10th, 2013 at 7:00 am

    Hello there everybody,

    Can someone please advise me of the status of the airline/s that is flying between Ambon and Banda and of the flight days and times (return flights as well) and the cost and luggage allowance and excess luggage charges.

    Thanks

    Urgently
    HK Chong

  7. avatar Johny Says:
    October 14th, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    I just chek the flight schedule to Banda for U Mr HK Chong .
    Merpati airlines fly to Banda Neira but not regular ,mostly depend on wheater condition.
    Just about 10 kgs baggage allowed> You can use Ship as a choice>>
    Wheater is good now>>

  8. avatar Fr RO Says:
    January 17th, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Hello folks,

    I’m planning to visit Banda Islands in early february.
    Can somebody inform me the status of tle flights between Ambon and Banda? And what will be the weather like at this period? I’ve read that it should me the rainy season… Is the rain strong and during the whole day?

    Thanks a lot for your help!

  9. avatar Chris Says:
    January 18th, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Dear Fr RO,

    Can somebody inform me the status of tle flights between Ambon and Banda?

    Please re-read the first sentence:

    …there are currently no regular scheduled flights operating between Ambon and Banda…

    And what will be the weather like at this period?

    In Ambon, it is the opposite – the dry season now, the wet season in April to September.

    Ambon weather forecast and monthly averages

  10. avatar Marvin Kelly Says:
    August 28th, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Dear Sir or Madam,
    We are two persons who will be traveling in Indonesia December 12–30. We can be flexible as to dates and would like to spend 4 days or so on the Banda Islands. Can you advise if getting to Banda is possible any time during our travel to Indonesia? And details re same.
    Thank you!
    Marvin Kelly

  11. avatar Chris Says:
    August 29th, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Dear Marvin Kelly,

    Sorry, we cannot answer your question until November. The Pelni schedule is known up to six weeks in advance.

  12. avatar Bapak SrigalaPutih Says:
    October 9th, 2014 at 12:20 am

    may I ask how is the status of the flight schedule now for the rest of 2014 and how much is a one-way-trip ?

  13. avatar Chris Says:
    October 9th, 2014 at 8:16 am

    The first paragraph answers your question. We regularly update this post with the latest boat schedule and there is no change to the flight schedule: 2 days/week, Mondays and Thursdays.

    If would like a quote, please send an enquiry

  14. avatar tony giles Says:
    November 16th, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Dear Chris.

    I am planning to visit Banda Islands in March 2015. Could you give me an idea of the cost of a flight from Ambon to Bandanaira please, one way and return please.

    Kind regards, Tony

  15. avatar Chris Says:
    November 18th, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Hi Tony,

    If would like a quote, please make an enquiry. The form asks some small but important questions.

  16. avatar Mei Says:
    December 8th, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Dear Christ,
    I would like to ask you about the flight schedule from Ambon to Bandaneira and from Bandaneira back to Ambon again.
    As I am planning my holiday to go there on between 02/01/2015-14/01/2015.
    Please help me to give me some information about the updated flight schedule for January 2015 and how much it costs per person?
    Thank you :-)

  17. avatar Chris Says:
    December 9th, 2014 at 5:49 am

    Dear Mei,

    The first paragraph of this post contains all that I know about the flight schedule. If you would like a quote, please send an enquiry.

  18. avatar Mei Says:
    December 11th, 2014 at 5:17 am

    Dear Christ,
    Thank you for your nice reply.
    I have sent 2 times the enquiry.
    I hope you can send me the information soon because I need to plan my holiday and also to make sure the flight from Jakarta to Ambon.
    Thank you very much for your kind help, Christ!
    Best regards,
    Mei

  19. avatar Chris Says:
    December 11th, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Dear Mei,

    I will reply to your enquiry shortly.

  20. avatar Rainer Says:
    December 19th, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I jus got back from Banda last November 2014 and planning to go again on mid January until I heard about this discomforting news on Aviastar. I called the Aviastar officiant in Ambon directly and they said people have to wait until early (or mid January) whether Aviastar will win the business deal between them and Susi Air. But if you would like to reach Banda in a hurry, go with Pelni (depart afternoon, arrival next morning) with 1st class. Good luck to all!

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