Garuda Indonesia officially operates direct flights from Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport, Aceh to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, starting Thursday, August 3, 2023, using Boeing B777-300 ER. On its maiden flight, the national flag carrier transported 308 prospective pilgrims.
“The opening of a direct flight from Banda Aceh to the Holy Land is Garuda’s effort to provide a safe and comfortable service for Aceh people on the pilgrimage trip,” the airline’s director Irfan Setiaputra said in a written statement on Thursday, August 3, 2023.
According to him, the new service is also one of the airline’s efforts to develop its flight network to Saudi Arabia. Garuda was determined to open direct flights from five major cities, namely Banda Aceh, Yogyakarta, Makassar, Surabaya, and Kertajati.
Irfan continued that the service was also the company’s effort to optimize the opportunities for the Umrah market which continued to grow significantly. It was reported that there is potential for more than 30,000 prospective pilgrims from Aceh each year who access Umrah flights via other cities.
The direct flights will be available every Monday and Thursday, which are adjusted to the Umrah travel needs of Aceh people that last 12-13 days. Garuda will also start serving Banda Aceh – Medina flights once a month.
Aceh Governor Akhmad Marzuki appreciated Garuda Indonesia for facilitating the direct flights. He said Aceh people would no longer need to depend on other regions for Umrah trips. “We hope it will affect the Aceh economy and introduce Aceh to the global community, especially the Middle Eastern people,” he said.