Belawan Port in North Sumatra is expected to welcome an increased number of ship passengers during this year’s Idul Fitri holiday.

M. Lutfi Israr Sutan, the head of the Medan Begawan branch of state-owned ship operator PT Pelayaran Nasional Indonesia (Pelni), said high airfares were among the reasons why passengers were opting to travel by ship for the upcoming mudik (exodus) period.

Lutfi predicted that the number of passengers arriving at Belawan Port would increase by 10 to 15 percent during the Idul Fitri holidays compared to the low season.

He said that of the 3,880 ship tickets available, 1,922 tickets had been sold since Wednesday, as quoted by .

Lutfi also said there would be an increased number of passengers traveling from Belawan to Tanjung Priok Port in North Jakarta during the upcoming holidays.

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“[This year], up to 200 passengers will travel from Belawan to Tanjung Priok,” he said, adding that usually the Belawan-Tanjung Priok route only carried around 75 people.

Last year, Batam in Riau Islands was the most popular destination for ship passengers traveling from Belawan Port.

In terms of ticket prices, Lutfi said fares had not been changed. For the Belawan-Tanjung Priok route, economy class tickets are priced at Rp 422,000 (US$29.15), while 1A class tickets are priced at Rp 1,300,000 per person.

As for the Belawan-Batam route, ticket prices start from Rp 230,000. (jes/kes)