"We have received a report on the plan of Batik Air to open the flight routes to Ternate. The airlines will conduct its maiden flight on December 19, 2015," the mayor said.
The Lion Air subsidiary will in the first phase serve directly the Makassar-Ternate and the Jakarta-Ternate routes with a 150-seat capacity Boeing 737 plane.
The mayor said his side lauded the plan of the airlines to open direct flight routes to Ternate as it will increase the role of Ternate airport as an entry gate through the air to North Maluku.
Arifin said that the opening of the route was also expected to attract both domestic and international tourists to North Maluku.
He said one of the reasons for tourists to be reluctant to visit Ternate was the shortage in air transportation facilities.
The mayor expressed hope that Batik Air would not open direct flights from Makassar and Jakarta only but also from other important cities in Indonesia such as Denpasar of Bali which so far served as an entry gate for foreign tourists to Indonesia.
Even, if possible, Batik Air and other airlines open direct flights from overseas cities such as Tokyo, to Ternate.
He said that so far there have been four airline companies which serve flights to Ternate, namely Garuda Indonesia, Sriwijaya Air, Express Air and Wings Air with seven flights every day.
Full-service carrier Batik Air is also planning to open regional routes to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong next year in a bid to further strengthen its foothold in the regional airline industry.
Lion Group`s general affairs director Edward Sirait was quoted by the Jakarta Post last month that the group`s full-service airline was still in the process of acquiring permits to fly to those countries. The airline was previously planning to open three daily flights between Jakarta and Singapore by the end of this year.
"We are still waiting for the permit to enter these countries, so I can`t reveal when next year we will operate the new routes," Edward told reporters on the sidelines of the Indonesian National Air Carriers Association (INACA) annual meeting in Jakarta.
The full-service airline currently flies to 10 destinations, including Manado (North Sulawesi), Pekanbaru (Riau), Ambon (Maluku) and Balikpapan (East Kalimantan).
According to Edward, the airline`s current load factor was around 80 percent. He said it had not set any targets for load factors for next year`s new routes.
"Our main focus is to not record loss. A high load factor does not guarantee profit," he said.
He said that the airline was optimistic that passenger numbers would continue double-digit growth on the back of the favorable business climate under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo`s administration.
"With economic growth forecast above 5 percent next year, we are optimistic that it will contribute positively to the growth of the air transportation industry," he said.
The group would focus on developing Batik Air next year, in line with the airline`s increase in passengers, he said.
According to Edward, Batik Air`s current fleet consists of eight planes, with the aim of 12 by the end of this year and 40 by the end of next year.
Since its establishment in 2000, the Jakarta-based Lion Group has served 70 routes in Southeast Asia. In addition to low-cost Lion Air and full-service Batik Air, the group also operates Wings Air, a feeder airline for Lion Air.
Lion Group also has a 49 percent stake in Malaysian airline Malindo Air.
The group is also planning to take over the management of Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta from state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II.
Lion Group had earlier said it would begin a Rp 5 trillion (US$436 million) expansion project at Halim in November, with state-owned construction company PT Adhi Karya assigned to the construction.