ASEAN.travel wish to all our readers and supporters a Prosperous Successful Year 2019!
Here is a round-up of important events and news which happened over the holiday season.
- An earthquake hit the Moluccas Islands in East Indonesia on January 7 with a magnitude of 6.6 on Richter scale. The earthquake epicenter was located 173 km northwest of Ternate in North Maluku province. There was however no report of damages or casualties.
- Garuda Indonesia is changing plans over London… again. After suspending flights between Jakarta and London Heathrow, Indonesia national carrier reopened in early December the route with a non-stop flight but is now changing again its plans. The carrier is switching from January 22 its existing London-Jakarta service to a direct one-way flight from London to Bali. On the way back however, passengers will have to still catch their flight out of Jakarta.
- Good news for travellers in Jakarta: the first underground rail line is due to open by next March. A welcome step as congestion in the Indonesian capital is among the worst in the world. The first MRT line will have 13 stations running from Bundaran Circle near Hotel Indonesia and Grand Hyatt Hotel to Lebak Bulus, running on 16 km. Second phase of the line is due to open in 2024 and run up to Jakarta old town. Jakarta is due to topple Tokyo as the world’s most populous city by 2030 with 35.6 million, according to Euromonitor International,
- Low cost carrier Scoot is launching next April three weekly services from Singapore to Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Flights will be conducted in an Airbus A320 every Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
- Both Malaysia and Singapore finally managed to find an agreement over air space. Following a meeting between Foreign Ministers of both countries, Malaysia agreed to suspend the permanent Restricted Area established over Pasir Gudang in Johor Baru, while Singapore has shelved the implementation of the Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) at Seletar Airport. Airlines will now be able to land at Seletar Airport, Singapore second air gateway.
- The Philippines should have received last year between 7 and 7.2 million international tourists, short of a projected target of 7.4 million according to the Department of Tourism. Growth was strong due to a surge of over 30% in Chinese tourists arrivals ( 1.06 million in 2018 compared to 810,807 in 2017). Target for 2019 is fixed at 8,2 million international tourist arrivals.
- Philippine Airlines announced to launch new routes to Hanoi (Vietnam), Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and New Delhi (India) from its Manila hub. Hanoi will be served four times a week from March 31 and Phnom Penh five times a week from April 1st. There is no precise launching date however for Delhi.
- Tropical typhoon Pabuk which occurred last week was finally less strong than first envisioned. The most extensive damage and flooding were recorded on Thailand east coast on Friday in the provinces of Nakhon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani. Thailand Airports were closed during the peak of the typhoon but resumed operations on Saturday. Pabuk had been downgraded to a tropical storm and brought in Phuket and Krabi heavy rain and wind.
- Thailand decided to extend its visa waiver towards 21 nations until the end of April. The visa fee waiver of THB2,000 was due to to finish on January 15. Tourism and Sports Minister Veerasak Kowsurat said that the measure would help boosting tourism, particularly from China.
- Vietnam reached its official target of 15.5 million international travelers last year by welcoming 15.49 million international visitors, an increase of 19.9% over 2017. The country received for the first time more international travellers than Indonesia, which seemed to have received 14.5 million international travellers last year.
- After a string of incidents at Vietjet, Vietnam Civil Aviation has decided to freeze the carrier’s expansion until January 15. Vietjet is expected to remain under supervision of the CAAV until that date, when the regulator will decide whether the airline should be allowed to resume adding flights.