You might be thinking no one was flying to Bali anyway right now, but Perth boasts a large Indonesian community, and thousands of people have been seeking repatriation flights in both directions during the pandemic.
What happens now remains to be seen.
Garuda president director Irfan Setiaputra fronted an Indonesian government inquiry on Monday and said Australia’s strict COVID restrictions meant flights Down Under were no longer viable.
“Indeed, what we see in the future is that it is impossible to make a profit because of the existing conditions, and it is impossible for us to increase the cargo; we will stop it, like Melbourne and Perth, starting next month, we will stop it,” Mr Irfan said (translated from Indonesian).
Garuda is axing flights between Perth and Bali from July 1, marking the first time in two decades the Indonesian carrier will not offer a service to WA.
Cheap Garuda flights to Perth’s northernmost suburb have become part of the fabric of West Aussie life, and the return leg has introduced countless Bintang singlets into WA society.
Thanks to the pandemic, and Federal and State Government COVID restrictions, this will no longer be the case.
Camera IconGaruda Indonesia is suspending flights from Perth to Bali. Credit: Supplied
Mr Irfan said the airline would now only operate one route to Sydney.
Indonesia Institute president Ross Taylor told The West Live Garuda had little choice given its dire economic outlook.
The West Australian’s aviation editor Geoffrey Thomas reports the airline — like most carriers — has been struggling with COVID-19 and passenger caps into Australia. It failed to make a $US500 million ($662m) bond repayment last week and its shares have been put into a trading halt.
Garuda has sought a suspension of debt payments to creditors and lessors in order to avoid bankruptcy, according to a media report citing a senior government official.
However, even though the future looks grim, Mr Taylor said he expected the Indonesia government would likely bail out the carrier rather than see it disappear altogether.
What that will mean for the future of cheap flights from Perth to Bali once the pandemic ends is uncertain.