Jakarta — Indonesian flag carrier Garuda Indonesia on Tuesday (07/03) announced additional flights from Jakarta to three Australian cities – Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. Speaking at Tourism Australia’s and Garuda Indonesia’s joint press conference at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Jakarta, Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo expressed his hope that the flights will “drive closer collaboration, improve ties and share a common vision between Australia and Indonesia.” “Indonesia and Australia have a relationship that is not as strong as it should be [..] One critical piece of infrastructure that underscores what we can achieve in trade is aviation,” Ciobo said. Garuda Indonesia will be adding one flight per week on their Jakarta-Australia and Denpasar-Australia routes. The airline expects the number of passengers on their Australian flights to increase to 650,000 in 2017. According to Ciobo, more flights will result new opportunities around business and leisure tourism. The additional flights are part of Garuda Indonesia’s effort to accommodate a growing market and increase traffic between Indonesia and Australia. In 2016, Garuda Indonesia served 17 percent more flights between Indonesia and Australia than in 2015. Garuda Indonesia chief executive Arif Wibowo said the full opening of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport’s Terminal 3 later this year will further improve flight connectivity between the two countries. Indonesia is Australia’s 12th largest market for international tourist arrival with around 175,000 Indonesians traveling down under in 2016. The joint press conference was held in conjunction with the Indonesia-Australia Business Week (IABW) 2017 which takes place from March 6-10 across five cities in Indonesia.