Particularly in the case of Indonesia, affordable air travel is an important matter in terms of connectivity. The country is a gigantic Archipelago consisting of more than 17,000 islands, hence air travel is in many cases the most efficient option, timewise.

Moreover, airports (and airlines) are not only important for the flow of people and goods across space, but they also make or break a first impression. This particularly applies to foreigners who visit Indonesia for the first time. The service they receive on the airplane (in case it’s an Indonesian airline such as national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia) and the quality of the facilities and services at the airport once landed in Indonesia can make a lasting impression. This (first) impression of the airline and airport can even beautify, or spoil, the foreigner’s impression of the whole country. That is why it is important for authorities to make sure that international airports match world-class standards. The importance of these first impressions should not be underestimated as they can make or break businesses and relationships.

Generally, especially for Westerners, hygiene and cleanliness are important matters. For example, about a decade ago there were many foreign tourists who complained about the rest rooms at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (Indonesia’s main entrance point in terms of air travel). The main problem was that the toilets did not meet international standards. One can imagine that for a foreign visitor who – after an exhausting flight – wants to freshen up after leaving the plane, it is not a positive experience to face a dirty and smelly restroom (moreover Westerners are confused how to use a squat toilet). It then becomes a bad start to the ‘Indonesian experience’. And if you had a lay-over at Singapore’s Changi Airport prior to arriving in Indonesia, then the contrast between rest rooms could not be bigger.

In terms of the quality of services offered by airlines (especially during the flight) there is no need for concern because, general speaking, Indonesians are humble and service-oriented. Hence, we rarely hear of (international) air passengers being upset because of the services they received during the flight on an Indonesian airline, or when checking in.

Moreover, nearly all Indonesian airlines are privately-held companies that need to keep their quality in-check in order to survive in the competitive environment. The international airports in Indonesia, however, are state-controlled with the majority being run by fully state-owned airport operators Angkasa Pura I and Angkasa Pura II. It is not uncommon for the state-owned entities to have less efficient management practices and strategies compared to their private counterparts. That is probably the reason why it needed some more time to establish world-class airports in Indonesia.

Read the full article in our September 2020 report. You can order the report by sending an email to or message to +62(0)8.788.410.6944 (incl. WhatsApp).

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