New Delhi: Direct flights between India and Indonesia are likely to begin this year to facilitate tourism, Indonesian ambassador Rizali W. Indrakesuma said on Wednesday. 
 
“The Indian government has already given permission; it is a matter of how Indonesia responds. We are hoping that direct flights between the two countries begin by this year or by next year at the latest,” said Indrakesuma said.
 
The first flights both governments plan to launch initially are between Delhi and Jakarta and Mumbai and Bali. Garuda Indonesia and Air India will operate flights between the two countries. 
 
The ambassador said a deal on the matter could be finalised in March when the transport minister of Indonesia will participate in an event organised by the civil aviation ministry in India.
 
 
“This is an opportunity for our minister to engage with the Indian civil aviation minister (Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati) at an event organised in Hyderabad in March,” the ambassador said. 
 
“The consulate general of Indonesia in Mumbai will push the ministry of tourism to open direct flights for the first time between Delhi and Jakarta and Mumbai and Bali. Last year, 262,000 tourists from India visited Indonesia; we expect the figure to go up to 350,000 this year. First it’ll be a government-to-government engagement and later we can engage private airlines,” said Taufik Nurhidayat, deputy director, ministry of tourism, Republic of Indonesia.
 
Indonesia attracts the highest number of tourists from Singapore, followed by Malaysia, Australia, China, Japan, Korea and India.