Indonesia's booming budget airlines gear up to spread wings even further
JAKARTA -- Indonesia's low-cost carriers are gearing up for further expansion to take a larger share of the country's growing air transportation market.
Most budget carriers serving domestic routes have ordered more airplanes to increase flight frequency on existing routes and to serve new routes.
Lion Air, for example, which is the largest player and currently operates 87 Boeing aircraft, will take delivery of 12 B737-900 extended range twinjets this year. “We recently opened the Jakarta-Jayapura-Merauke night flight and will soon open three more domestic routes,” Lion Air general affairs director Edward Sirait told The Jakarta Post recently.
The new domestic routes are Surabaya-Ambon, Surabaya-Palu and Batam-Denpasar. At present, Lion serves 36 destinations, including Singapore as well as Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Malaysia.
He also said that Lion's regional subsidiary, Wings Air, would take delivery of six turbo-prop aircraft ATR-72s, increasing its fleet to 31 aircraft. “The new ATRs will enable us to strengthen our city hopper routes in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan this year,” he said.
Existing city hopper routes that Wings will add more flights to are Medan-Gunung Sitoli, Medan-South Tapanuli, Malang-Denpasar and Malang-Bandung, he said.
In the next few years, the airline will have 60 ATRs to help strengthen its short-range network in Sulawesi, Maluku, Nusa Tenggara and Papua.
Edward also said that the airline would have 178 airplanes by 2016, enabling the airline to connect to more than 60 destinations in the country and ASEAN.
“Connectivity is the key in the country's airline industry. The synergy between Lion and Wings will help our passengers go to any place across Indonesia,” he added.
From January to March 2012, the number of Lion and Wings passengers had risen 10 percent from 7.7 million to 8 million, he said. Next year, Lion will also kick off Batik Air, a new full-service airline that will fly to Australia, South Asia and East Asia.
In addition, national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia's budget airline Citilink will take delivery of 11 Airbus 320s, increasing its fleet to 20 aircraft by the end of this year, Garuda's marketing director Elisa Lumbantoruan said.
“With 20 new aircraft, Citilink will be able to connect Jakarta with other cities such as Padang, Pekanbaru and Yogyakarta,” he told the Post.
Currently, the airline operates nine aircraft: one B737-300, five B737-400s and three A320s and serves nine domestic routes, including Jakarta-Denpasar, Jakarta-Surabaya, Jakarta-Banjarmasin, Surabaya-Makassar and Jakarta-Medan.
“Based on Garuda's Quantum Leap Programme, Citilink will operate 50 aircraft by the end of 2015,” he added.
He also said that its flight permit (SIUAU) authorized the airline to fly 70 domestic routes and 16 international routes, which illustrated its seriousness in taking on the low-cost carrier market.
Based on recent Garuda Indonesia data, Citilink carried 577,424 passengers in the first quarter of 2012, a 55.44 percent increase from the 371,486 in the same period last year.
Indonesia AirAsia (IAA) added five new A320 aircraft in 2012, increasing its fleet to 21 aircraft by the end of this year.
The second A320 plane was delivered last week, enabling the airline to serve more passengers on both established and new routes this year, spokesperson Audrey Progastama said.
“We are focusing on domestic routes this year because the domestic demand is very high,” Audrey told the Post.
She said the airline had opened the Bandung-Surabaya, Bandung-Penang, Bandung-Pekanbaru, Surabaya-Denpasar and Yogyakarta-Denpasar routes to strengthen its presence in the domestic market.
IAA carried 1.27 million passengers from January to March this year, a 16 percent increase from the 1.09 million in the same period last year, she said.
The low-cost carrier business model has become the darling of the industry and competition among players is getting tighter as demand keeps increasing every year.
According to recent Transportation Ministry data, Indonesia saw a 16.78 percent increase in airline passengers last year, up from 58.39 million in 2010 to 68.19 million in 2011.
Lion Air dominated the market by serving 24.97 million domestic passengers, or 41.59 percent of the total domestic market, while its inter-national passengers totaled 961,800, taking 11.8 percent of the international market for Indonesian airlines.
Citilink transported 1.6 million passengers last year, or only 2.3 percent of the domestic market. It booked a 45 percent jump in passengers from 1.1 million in 2010. AAI became an international carrier in Indonesia only last year. It carried 3.38 million passengers, or 41.58 percent of the international market, making it the strongest local-international player in 2011.
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