In a bid to make Garuda Indonesia passengers have a pleasant flight while enjoying special foods from Maluku, the company is currently exploring the possibility of cooperating with the province`s culinary entrepreneurs, capable of supplying local foods to be served on Garuda flights.
On June 3, 2010 Garuda resumed its Jakarta-Ambon route with a stopover in Makassar, South Sulawesi.
The Jakarta-Makassar-Ambon route is being served with aircraft having a capacity for 14 to 16 business-class seats and 120 economy-class seats.
Garuda Ambon branch manager Hendra Sumarno said in Maluku provincial city of Ambon on Tuesday that the possibility of cooperation with the province`s culinary entrepreneurs was being explored.
"We are currently exploring the possibility of cooperation with culinary entrepreneurs who can produce traditional Maluku dishes for Garuda passengers," Hendra Sumarno said.
Hendra admitted that since Garuda resumed its Jakarta-Ambon route in July last year, he had been thinking about a concept of serving regional typical foods to passengers of the national flag carrier during its flights.
"For several domestic and overseas destinations we serve passengers with some regional typical foods, and for Jakarta-Amsterdam flights we serve them with Javanese typical food namely `nasi tumpeng` or rice cone," Hendra said.
In October 2010, Garuda Indonesia in cooperation with the Maluku Culture and Tourism Office also realized Ambon-Amsterdam route by making use of "Family Trip" program.
"The most important thing is the public awareness to maintain the natural beauty of Ambon and its supporting facility to make foreign tourists feel at home," Hendra said.
While for Jakarta-Ambon flights, he said the Garuda passengers were served with Makassar typical food so they wanted to replace it with special cuisine from Maluku.
"We are at present incessantly doing business transformation to eastern Indonesian regions with special service and presentation of regional typical foods," he added.
According to him, a team of selectors from Jakarta would go to Ambon for surveying which culinary entrepreneurs were eligible to serve their typical foods to Garuda passengers.
"If we find eligible culinary entrepreneurs who can meet the standard of Garuda to serve the passengers with Maluku typical foods, we will cooperate with them," Hendra said.
He added that reasonable service and foods with regional characteristics would make Garuda`s Ambon bound passengers enjoy a comfortable flight.
Nicknamed "Ambon Manise" (Sweet Ambon), the island has views which are never boring, because wherever one may go, he or she can see the clear blue sea, fused with the green mountains in the distance.
Ambon also has charming and very impressive beaches such as Tanjung beach at Leitimur Peninsula that boats captivating sunset views, Namalatu beach with beautiful sea gardens at Latuhalat village, white sandy Natsepa beach near the village of Suli, and Liang beach at Liang village.
No wonder, Hendra Sumarno said Garuda Indonesia continued to promote the island city of Ambon in its cabin magazine with photos and data about tourism.
He said the cover of the magazine displayed Ambon`s marine tourism enchantment with "Oh, the Beauty of Ambon Manise" on it.
The magazine is made available on every seat of Garuda aircraft on domestic and overseas routes.
"The Garuda magazine promoting Ambon tourism is bilingual, Indonesian and English, in an effort to facilitate English speaking passengers to know more about Ambon with its hospitable people," Hendra said.
The magazine also displays photos of and data on Ambon`s marine tourism, Waisalaka egg-eating giant eels at Waai village, Amsterdam fort, old mosques and churches, as well as typical Pantai Natsepa fruit salad of Suli village.
"We are part of Ambon tourism component and therefore, since resuming its route to Pattimura airport in June this year Garuda Indonesia has been trying to make local government program in tourism sector here a success," Hendra said.
Airport management company PT Angkasapura-I General Manager Reggynald Kronest has said Pattimura International Airport in Ambon was also ready to serve international flights from Seoul, South Korea.
Reginald has ever said that Pattimura airport had an international standard with adequate supporting facilities, and therefore it was set to serve international flights from other countries including South Korea for business purposes.
That is the reason why the Pattimura branch of PT Angkasapura-I has prepared adequate facilities to support Pattimura as an international airport in eastern Indonesia.
Reggynald said that even good coordination has been made with related institutions to support the airport`s services.
"The airport has adequate facilities because we have made a good coordination with related institutions such as the immigration to occupy a space which has been made available at the airport," Reggynald said at the time.
"So far international flights have yet to be scheduled, and if this happened, the immigration will occupy the room prepared for it," he said.
Reggynald admitted that Dutch people of Maluku origin were also looking forward to Amsterdam-Ambon straight flights.
"We are also ready to serve direct flights from and to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, because most of the passengers wanted to visit Maluku to meet with their relatives," he said.(*)