On Friday, March 5, 2004, Austasia Airlines inaugurated its new once-weekly service between Bali and two destinations in Australia's northwest Ė Broome and Karratha. The new flight will provide easy and inexpensive access for those living in the relatively remote Pilbara and Kimberley regions of Australia's Northwest to Bali and onward destinations in Indonesia and other international destinations, while providing a gateway to the rich natural wonders of Australia's North West for incoming visitors.
The flight, using Boeing 737-400 aircraft chartered from Merpati Nusantara Airline, will depart every Friday from Bali's International Airport at 9:10 a.m. arriving in Broome 2 hours later at 11:10 a.m.. The same aircraft departs Broome at 12:40 p.m. for Karratha where it lands at 1:50 p.m.. The return leg from Karratha to Bali takes off at 2:35 p.m. landing at 4:50 p.m.. Special air and accommodation prices have been launched starting from AU$ 896 plus taxes including point-to-point flights and 7 nights accommodation in Bali.
On the inaugural touch down in Broome the landing aircraft received a royal welcome with two fire trucks crossing their water streams above the taxiing Boeing 737. Inside the terminal a mid-day cocktail reception saw commemorative souvenirs distributed to arriving passengers and brief speeches by Mr. Ed Turner, Managing Director of Austasia Airlines; Mr. Ian Laurance, Chairman of Australia's North West charged with promoting the region's tourism; and the Member for Kimberly, Ms. Carol Martin who spoke on behalf of the Minister for Tourism, the Honorable Bob Kucera. Operating with a special exemption, the aircraft was allowed to carry a group of "domestic" VIP passengers between Broome and Karratha for a similar celebration there where Shire President for Roebourne officiated at another welcoming ceremony.
Mr. Ed Turner, Managing Director of Austasia Airlines, which already operates a regular service connecting Christmas Island (Australia) with Indonesia, said "we are committed to this service because we believe that the Pilbara and the Kimberly regions contribute a huge amount to the State and Federal economy and the people who live and work in this region deserve direct international air flights." Turner also said that initial bookings ex Australia had been very promising, adding, "each week the level of bookings has been increasing and our forward bookings for Easter and the school holidays are very good."
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