In and out by plane

Before I forget the detail (and for the benefit of visitors threatening to drop in soon), it is worth noting some of the features of arrival here from abroad.

The only commercial flights in and out of Dili are by AirNorth to Darwin and Merpati to Bali. Apparently there was a flight to Kupang in West Timor before my time but not now.

AirNorth operates one or two flights per day and uses a Brasilia Embrauer 120 which seats around 25 to 30 passengers. If bookings are a bit lower, they use a Metro 23 which can seat about 18. Both are twin-propeller driven things (turboprop ?) and take around 1 hour and 40 minutes to get here. It is worth noting that the Metro 23 does not have an onboard toilet.

Both planes are sufficiently noisy to make personal music listening a bit difficult. Cabin food service is limited to crisps, sweets, cakes and biscuits plus beverage of choice (ie tea, coffee, soft drink). This is at no extra charge and not much good for those on strict diets.

The AirNorth flights limit checked-in luggage to 13kgs which is significantly less than the 32kgs allowed on domestic flights in Australia. Carry-on baggage is also reduced as the Embrauer overhead lockers are smaller than larger planes and the Metro 23 does not have overhead lockers at all.

The Merpati flights are usually 737s (I think) and do overcome the baggage restrictions. In general, I would recommend tourists come via Bali as Bali offers a much cheaper stop-over than Darwin. As for safety, I can see no problem particular if you stay away from Kuta and Legian. Flight time is a similar 1 hour 50 minutes.

On arrival in Dili, you will be deposited onto the Comorro Airport tarmac and guided into the terminal building. If you do not have a visa, the visa office is in a small pre-fab hut by the walkway to the terminal (USD30 for a 30 day tourist visa). There are usually around 3 operating immigration officials and it is fairly quick getting through less than 30 passengers. Just past immigration to the right is the baggage collection carousel and a small duty-free shop where you can pick up your duty-free spirits, if you haven’t done it already.

As you walk out, you will be asked for ID by customs who may or may not require an inspection. I have never had any trouble here. A short walk and you are out.

Although I have taxied to the airport, I have always been picked up on arrival so can’t speak for the taxi allocation service outside. But I wouldn’t pay more than USD2 for a trip anywhere in town.

Leaving is a bit different. One just walks straight into the terminal (where non-travellers are generally not allowed) past the unattended X-ray machine to check-in your luggage. Online ticket purchases are recognised on presentation of ID. A lad usually offers to take your check-in luggage over to manual scales for weighing. Then its 10 steps right to pay your USD10 departure tax.

I usually leave the terminal building at this point (about 4 minutes after arrival) and retire to the coffee shop outside. It seems it is the done thing to wait there for the guy (who checked in your luggage) to call you to your flight.

Then its back into the terminal past the “remove your ammunition clips from your weapons before entering terminal” sign to immigration to hand in your completed immigration form. These days the X-ray equipment for your carry-on luggage now does work. The departure lounge has no food or drink hence the milling around the coffee shop outside. The departure lounge has a duty-free shop and a couple of souvenir shops. The prices are high but it is not a bad range of souvenirs.

One is then called to the flight and marched out behind the cabin staff across the tarmac to the plane. Then you’re out.

Although it varies, timetabled flights are typically :
DRW-DIL 7:00am, 3:30pm, flight time 1:45
DIL-DRW 9:00am, 5:30pm
The afternoon flight is not on every day. If you book ahead, the DRW-DIL leg should cost AU199 and the DIL-DRW return leg US159. You can do this at :

I have not done this one for a while but I believe the timetable is something like shown below following a reduction in timetabled flights recently :
Every MONDAY :
DPS-DIL 10:10am (arrive 1:00pm)
DIL-DPS 1:40pm (arrive 2:35pm)

DPS-DIL 10:30am (arrive 1:20pm)
DIL-DPS 1:55pm (arrive 2:50pm)