SEMARANG, Central Java - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hopes that issues which led to the delay in the launch of Singapore Airlines (SIA) flights from the city-state to Sydney, via Jakarta will be resolved soon.
SIA was forced to postpone plans for a thrice-weekly Singapore-Jakarta-Sydney service, which had been due to start on Nov 23, after being told that Soekarno-Hatta International Airport had to undergo runway maintenance.
The Sydney-Jakarta route is currently served by Australia's Qantas and Garuda Indonesia.
PM Lee, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of his first Leaders' Retreat with President Joko Widodo in Indonesia on Monday (Nov 14), said he has broached the issue with Mr Joko as part of bilateral discussions to increase cooperation in tourism.
"Yes, I told the President that if we are going to pursue tourism cooperation, aviation is an important part of this," he said.
"You must have the aviation links so as to have the tourist numbers, and the volume. And you also must have a certainty and the confidence that aviation is growing for the tourist industry to build up the business, because if you build up the business and then it turns out that aviation is not able to grow in time, well that is a problem."
PM Lee said Mr Joko understood his point and hoped that the matter between SIA and the airport authorities in Indonesia will be able to be resolved soon.
"The explanation given has been that it has to do with maintenance of the runway at Soekarno-Hatta and we hope that will be completed expeditiously and furthermore, if there is any impact on the airlines, they will be fairly distributed," he added.