Category Archives: Wings Air

Flying with Wings Air

Chris takes off with Indonesia’s biggest regional airline, and is pleasantly surprised.

Wings Air is the partner airline of Indonesia’s most popular airline, Lion Air. It specialises in flights to smaller airports, e.g. Labuan Bajo, Nias, Malang, Sumba and Sumbawa, Maluku and West Papua. These airports have shorter runways, so it uses smaller aircraft:

Wings Air ATR72-500
Wings Air ATR72-500, with 68 seats

Why Propellor Planes?
Sometimes, clients are concerned about flying a plane with propellors, not jet engines. They consider it to be “old” technology, or perhaps they have never flown on a similar aircraft in their home country.

However, propellor planes (a.k.a. turboprops) are still used frequently throughout the world for shorter routes and remote locations/smaller airstrips. ATR is part-owned by EADS, the parent company of Airbus. ATR aircraft are IATA-certified and permitted to fly in EU airspace.

ATR Wings Air Signing Ceremony

After an initial purchase of 30 ATR72-500 aircraft in 2009, last year Wings Air agreed to buy 30 more. At the signing ceremony in Jakarta, the purchase was witnessed by then French Finance Minister (now IMF Director) Christine Lagarde. This suggests both Wings Air and the French government are confident in the safety and reliability of the aircraft.

Other more well-known airlines that operate ATR72 aircraft include:

Air New Zealand logo China Southern Airlines logo Aer Lingus Regional logo

Smaller aircraft also have certain strategic advantages over larger aircraft. Many Indonesian airports in smaller cities have runways that are too short for larger aircraft. Building larger airports or extending runways is often not possible due to problems with land acquisition and obtaining adequate financing. This situation is unlikely to change soon.

Garuda Bombadier CRJ1000 NextGen
Garuda Bombadier CRJ1000 NextGen, with 102 seats

Even Garuda Indonesia is starting to use smaller aircraft for smaller airports and shorter routes. The first of 18 Bombadier CRJ1000 NextGen aircraft recently arrived in Makassar.

Personal Experience
Of course, it is one thing to say, but another thing to do.

So, yours truly tried flying with Wings Air earlier this month (on a work trip, not a freebie).

On-Time Peformance of Indonesian AirlinesWings Air was recently found to have the second-best rate of on-time performance: 83.8%. Perhaps Wings Air has a slightly unfair advantage in this area. It commenced boarding at the usual time: 30 minutes before departure. However, the Wings Air plane has only 68 seats, or about half those in e.g. a Boeing 737. All passengers had boarded (even the slow ones) 15 minutes before departure, and the flight left 10 minutes early. On the return journey, the flight still departed on time even though boarding started late. The smaller plane had another fringe benefit: no queue when checking-in. As seasoned Indonesian travellers can attest, this doesn’t happen often.

Wings Air ATR72-500 planeOne different feature was having to board at the rear of the plane. The only doors at the front are the emergency exits and the cargo/baggage door. Talking about baggage, the baggage allowance is a loosely-enforced 15kg for checked baggage, 7kg for hand luggage.

Wings Air in-Flight materialsIn-flight comfort was better than on Lion Air planes. Legroom was adequate; every seat had an in-flight magazine and the usual items, including invocation card. The flight was quiet and smooth, apart from the occasional wobble during take-off and descent (same as for larger aircraft). Like Lion Air, there is no in-flight food or drink for free or for sale, but flights are short enough that this is not a problem. There were two air hostesses; apart from the safety demonstration, ascent and descent, they were invisible. Curiously, there were no announcements to the passengers from the pilots, so everyone was blissfully unaware about our cruising altitude, the weather at our destination, etc.

To summarise, this passenger had a positive experience flying Wings Air and would happily do so again.

Would you like to fly Wings Air? Please make an enquiry here.

Confusion!

A guide through the maze of bemusing and ever-changing world of Indonesian city, airline and airport names.

Travelling around Indonesia can be a little confusing if you aren't aware of the plethora of Indonesian cities' alternate names, spellings and airport names. Some have changed names, others have changed spelling and some have changed multiple times.

This is one of the reasons why the Mau Ke Mana Flight Booking Service doesn't just have an automated system of spitting back a list of flights and fares.

Wikipedia has a useful reference list of city and airport names/codes, but even it doesn't cover all bases.

Here is an attempt at an all-inclusive list of all these issues, in alphabetical order:

Ambon | Bali / Denpasar | Lion Air and Wings Air | Lombok / Mataram / Ampenan Makassar / Ujung Pandang

Here are some alternate spellings, the current/official "Indonesian" one on the right:

Yogyakarta & Jogjakarta | Manado & Menado | Sumatra & Sumatera

Confusing directions

Ambon (Airport Code: AMQ) (a.k.a. Pattimura Airport, Laha Airport, Ambon City, Kota Ambon, Ambon Island, Pulau Ambon)

Map of Ambon

Ambon City/Bay/Island/Airport

The city of Ambon is located on the island of Ambon, while Ambon Airport is located in Laha, 36km from Ambon City on the other side of the horseshoe-shaped Ambon Bay. Apparently no other names were available at the time...

Confusing directions

Bali (Airport Code: DPS) (a.k.a. Denpasar, Ngurah Rai Airport)

Bali Airport MapBali is not a separate country from Indonesia, but it is an island and province with its own unique culture. Some airlines, e.g. Air Asia, also use "Bali" as the name of the airport because Bali is much more well-known than "Denpasar".

Officially, the name of the airport is Ngurah Rai Airport or Denpasar Airport, and is located about 10km south of Denpasar, the capital city of Bali.

Confusing directions

Lion Air v Wings Air
Both airlines are part of the group/corporation and work together, like American Airlines and American Eagle in the United States, or Singapore Airlines and Silk Air in Singapore.

However, unlike Singapore Airlines/Silk Air or Garuda Indonesia and their budget wing Citilink, Lion Air and Wings Air continue to use the same website, airline code and booking system.

Their levels of service are mostly the same; the small differences are:

Wings Air plane Lion Air B737-900ER
Wings Air ATR72-500 Lion Air Boeing 737-900ER

- Wings Air operates smaller ATR72-500 planes (see above left) on shorter/less popular routes. Lion Air uses mostly Boeing 737-900ER planes (see above right) and operates on the longer/more popular routes.

- Lion Air's baggage allowance in economy class is 25kg for domestic flights, 20kg for international flights. Wings Air has a smaller - but not strictly enforced - baggage allowance: 15kg.

- Lion Air offers business/executive class on some routes.

You can tell which flight is operated by which airline in two ways:

Lion & Wings Air 2 Lion & Wings Air
  1. The logo next to the flight number.
  2. Usually a four-digit flight number also indicates a Wings Air flight.

Confusing directions

Makassar (Airport Code: UPG) (a.k.a. Ujung Pandang, Hasanuddin Airport)

Visit Makassar

Makassar was renamed Ujung Pandang in 1971 by an Indonesian government that wanted to give the city a more Indonesian or less Dutch name (around the same time that Djakarta became Jakarta). However, it was changed back to Makassar in 1999 by then President Habibie. These days, some airlines use Makassar, others Ujung Pandang.

Confusing directions

Mataram (Airport Code: AMI) (a.k.a. Ampenan, Lombok, Selaparang, Selaparang Airport)

The capital city of West Nusa Tenggara province, Mataram is actually one part of a conurbation of a few smaller cities. The airport is actually located in the city of Ampenan (what Garuda Indonesia's website currently calls it). It is also the only airport on the island of Lombok, so Selaparang Airport also has the working name of "Lombok Airport". Some smaller airlines flying from Denpasar/Bali also use Selaparang as the destination city name.

New Lombok Airport
The new Lombok International Airport, still under construction

A new airport in Central Lombok, tentatively named Lombok International Airport, is also under construction. It was due to open in 2010, but still has no scheduled opening date. It is not yet determined whether the existing airport in Mataram (West Lombok) will reduce or cease operations when this new airport opens.

Map of Old and New Lombok Airports
Old and New Lombok International Airports,
located in Mataram/Ampenan and Praya respectively

The new airport is located in Praya, Central Lombok; it is closer to (the other) Kuta, but quite far from Mataram and the tourist beaches of Sengigi and Gili Islands, so a complete closure seems unlikely. Any affected passengers will be informed if when the airport is about to commence operations.


If you have any other questions or areas of concern, please write a comment below, and we'll answer it.

Confusion! is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta and near Jakarta airport, and more.

Bali Bromo Express

Wings Air launches direct flights from Denpasar to Malang, reducing travel time to Mt Bromo significantly.

For many years, Mt Bromo has been the most visited of Indonesia's 129 active volcanoes (more than the famous/infamous Anak Krakatau or Mt Kelimutu). This is probably due to its relatively easy access, wide choice of accommodation nearby and proximity to Indonesia's tourist hub of Bali.

Bromo Tengger Semeru
The picture that launched 1000 postcards:
Sunrise at Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park.

In the past, a trip from Bali to the picture postcard moonscape of Mt Bromo usually involved a short flight from Denpasar/Bali to Surabaya, then a bus/train ride to Malang or Probolinggo, then another bus/jeep ride up the mountain in the early morning to the lookout point. Or the more intrepid could take a bus from Bali all the way to Probolinggo (including a short ferry ride). However, both ways could take several hours or longer, due to delays, traffic, narrow/hilly roads, etc.


Left Flag: Mt Bromo, Right Flag: Bali/Denpasar Airport.
As you can see, Malang is much closer to Mt Bromo than Surabaya

However, Wings Air (partner/subsidiary of Lion Air) has launched a new route that reduces the hassle and travel time significantly: Denpasar to Malang.

Wings Air ATR72-500

Using their brand new ATR72-500 aircraft (see above), Wings Air flies this route daily at the following times:

Flight Number Route Departs Arrives
Wings Air
JT1840
Denpasar/Bali
to Malang
13:45 14:00*
Wings Air
JT1841
Malang to
Denpasar/Bali
14:25* 16:25

*Local time in Malang is one hour behind Denpasar/Bali

One-way fares start at $US55.

Alternately, if you are flying from Europe to Jakarta, there are also multiple daily flights from Jakarta to Malang.

If you would like a quote for this flight, please fill in an enquiry form here.

Bali Bromo Express is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta and near Jakarta airport, and more.

Medan to Nias

How to get to Nias Island in Sumatra, flights on Wings Air and Merpati from Medan to Nias.

The island of Nias just off the western Sumatra coast, recently recovering from the 2005 earthquake and consequent tsunami, has traditionally been difficult to access, with the only flights for many years being run by the less than reliable SMAC (Sabang Merauke Air Charter) service, which in any case not long ago ceased flying to Nias for uncertain reasons.

These days however two larger, national airlines service the route from the nearest sizeable city on Sumatra - Medan, flying from Medan's Polonia airport to Nias' Binaka airport in the town of Gunungsitoli six times a day. The reverse route, from Nias to Medan, has five daily flights.

The trip takes 50 minutes (whereas traveling by road and then sea from Medan takes around 22 hours) and tickets cost in the range of $35 to $80 one way, depending on demand and how early you book.

The two airlines serving the Medan-Nias route are the cheap budget carriers Wings Air and Merpati. Wings Air, a daughter airline of Lion Air, flies out of Medan four times a day, at 05.30, 07.00, 14.15, and 15.45, while Merpati departs for Nias at 06.55 and 13.10.

The departure times for the return trip with Wings are 07.00, 08.20, and 15.30, while Merpati leaves Nias for Medan twice a day, at 08.30 and 14.45, so there's plenty of choice and flexibility in when to leave, and arrive at, the island.

If you're interested in booking a flight to Nias, and seeing one of Indonesia's cultures that is still relatively earthy and unspoilt by mass tourism, or in going surfing on the island, you can do so here.

Medan to Nias is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.

Flights to Sumba & Sumbawa

New routes from Wings Air; more options for visiting Sumba and Sumbawa islands.

From early September 2010 passenger airlines Wings Air and Lion Air have opened a number of new routes, connecting Bali to parts of Nusa Tenggara, namely Sumba and Sumbawa islands, as well as Lombok, while another brings central Borneo within easier reach of Surabaya.

Wings Air will fly ATR72-500 aircraft with a capacity of 72 passengers on these new routes:

  • Semarang, Central Java - Denpasar, Bali (twice a day)
  • Denpasar, Bali - Mataram, Lombok (twice a day)
  • Denpasar, Bali - Tambolaka (Waikabubak), Sumba (4 times a week: Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun)
  • Denpasar, Bali - Bima, Sumbawa (3 times a week: Tue, Thurs, Sat)

The Semarang to Denpasar flight had previously existed, but with a stopover in Surabaya; the new schedule takes a direct route.

While Wings Air's big brother, Lion Air, is opening one new route utilising a Boeing 737-400:

  • Surabaya, East Java - Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan (once a day)

Lion Air's General Director Edward Sirait says the purpose of opening new routes to Bali, Nusa Tenggara, and Kalimantan, apart from the usual business reasons, is to spur on economic development in those regions, and to increase the number of tourists visiting there, with the aim of strengthening the integrity of the unitary state of Indonesia. [1]

Apart from Wings Air flights to Sumba and Sumbawa can also be booked on Merpati and Transnusa, from Denpasar.

Those planning a visit to any of these areas can take advantage of the Mau Ke Mana flight booking service.

Flights to Sumba & Sumbawa is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book domestic flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesia hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.