LAKE TOBA: There was no need for a water cannon salute welcoming ceremony for AirAsia's first flight to Silangit near Lake Toba, as it had a natural shower from above.
Flight AK411, which left KLIA2 in Sepang with a total of 120 passengers, was greeted with a light shower upon landing at the Silangit International Airport at 10.47am local time on Sunday (Oct 28).
As soon as the passengers entered the airport building, the rain ceased and they were greeteed by a simple welcoming ceremony indoors.
This unique route makes it hassle-free to travel to Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world which is also blessed with a beautiful setting.
Among the guests on board was AirAsia Malaysia chief executive officer Riad Asmat.
Indonesia's Secretary of Maritime Affairs Ministry Agus Purwoto, special staff to Minister of Tourism for Tourism Infrastructure Judi Rifajantoro, head of Commercial Scheduled Flight Unit Ministry of Transportation Tri Danarsih, Silangit International Airport executive general manager M. Hendra Irawan and AirAsia Indonesia Group CEO Dendy Kurniawan were amongst the dignitaries to welcome the flight passengers.
In his speech, Riad said that travelling to Lake Toba, one of Indonesia's 10 "new Balis", is so much easier now with direct flights available to and from Silangit by AirAsia.
''The new route is part of our commitment to support the government of Indonesia in developing the 10 priority tourism destinations, including Lake Toba.
''We understand Indonesia is much more than just Bali, and we are committed to promoting the many hidden treasures of this country,'' he said.
By providing air connectivity to Lake Toba, Riad said AirAsia also hopes to contribute to the local economy through tourism, job creation, and opportunities for SMEs and communities.
''Besides that, our Green and Sustainability team is also looking into developing Community Based Tourism (CBT) destinations within the Silangit area.
''They are working closely with Lake Toba Tourism Authority to identify the locations,'' he added.
AirAsia currently operates four weekly flights to and from Silangit. Flight AK411 flies from Kuala Lumpur to Silangit every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 10.40am; while flight AK412 flies from Silangit to Kuala Lumpur on the same days at 11.25am.
Returning Canadian tourist Jodi Davis, 27, said the latest route has made it easier and saves time to travel to Lake Toba.
''I was here early last year and I had to take a five-hour domestic bus to get here after arriving at the Kualanamu Airport (in Medan).
''With this connecting flight, I will definitely come back to explore this beautiful place again,'' she said.