Subsidised flights are back!
|Everast explaining to the locals in Paro about the new Perintis route, Papua|
Here in Timika we operate subsidised routes to eight different airstrips; Beoga, Tsinga, Jila, Jita, Alama, Wangbe, Mapnduma and Paro. The last three are new routes for the subsidy schedule this year and thus require us to do a test flight into each airstrip to assess it’s suitability.
|DGCA test flight to new airfield form, Papua|
As I’ve been to these airstrips many times before on cargo charters, I was familiar with them but still had to complete the above form for each of the airstrips for the Indonesian civil aviation authority (DGCA). Not sure what they were expecting in terms of facilities at these places but judging by the categories they wanted information on, I think they might have been expecting real airports with aprons and ATC…
|My cockerel and bag gifts from the locals in Mapnduma for opening the Perintis route|
One of the real pleasures of this job is helping out the local people who are usually very grateful of the air transport we provide. The people of Mapnduma were very happy to have finally been granted a once weekly schedule that I was presented with a live cockerel and hand crafted man-bag. It’s amazing the generosity of these people who have so little to give and I’m happy we can help them out.
|Locals buying tickets at our ticket counter, Timika, Papua|
So, how does a person book a subsidised flight then? Well, firstly they have to purchase a ticket from our ticket counter which is located on the main road from the airport. In the remote villages, they purchase their tickets from a representative there. There’s often a waiting list at the more populated villages, as we can usually only take seven passengers with cargo at a time.
|Usual chaos of the Perintis terminal, Timika, Papua|
On the day of their flight, they arrive at the Timika Perintis terminal which is separate from the main terminal. In here it’s very much like the procedure at any other airport with all bags being x-rayed then the larger items being checked-in. Each passenger is also weighed along with their bags so I know the total weight of everything on the flight.
|Checked luggage being loaded onto “baggage cart”, Timika, Papua|
All checked-in items, which include anything from chainsaws to live chickens, are then loaded into a pick-up truck and driven across the apron to the aircraft where they’re loaded up according to their size/weight. On the whole, most baggage is pretty light so can happily sit behind all the passengers without putting the C of G out. If the baggage out-weighs the passengers, then I’ll load it all directly behind me under the wing-spar and have the passengers sit behind it. All the seats are fully moveable in the Porter to help with loading.
|Checked luggage being loaded into Pilatus Porter, Timika, Papua|
Sometimes we actually run out of space in the aircraft if people bring along larger items like duvets and bedding materials. This can present a bit of an argument amongst the passengers who then have to decide what’s most important. Anything left behind can usually be carried on another flight later in the week. It’s always interesting watching the arguments unfold when quite a few passengers carry machetes, spears, bows and arrows, air-rifles etc.They’re supposed to check them in but it’s not uncommon for them to arrive at the aircraft for boarding carrying such items. The airport security officers, who are always on standby for boarding, tend to freak out a little at times. I’ve gotten pretty used to it now and provided they don’t damage the aircraft, I’m not too fussed how they settle their arguments.