Budget carriers sip booming travel market

Budget carriers sip booming travel market
To meet the soaring demand, budget airlines Citilink (shown here), Lion Air and AirAsia have all set expansion plans for this and the coming years.

Twenty-eight-year-old Muhammad Fikri, an Indonesian now studying in the Netherlands, has just bought round-trip tickets from a low-cost airline for his solo trip to Italy this month.

Last year when he worked in a social business institution in Jakarta, Fikri was an avid backpacker exploring Asia on low-cost carriers.

"I don't have a huge budget, but I do have some money spare to travel abroad," he said.

Fikri is one of many rising middle-class Indonesians using their disposable income for travel.

The Transportation Ministry estimated that the number of air travelers in the country will hit more than 100 million this year, 11 per cent up from 2013's estimated 93.56 million.

To meet the soaring demand, budget airlines Citilink, Lion Air and AirAsia have all set expansion plans for this and the coming years.

Unlike the three carriers, the future does not look so bright for Tigerair Mandala, which cut nine of its 20 routes last month due to the spiraling cost of aviation-turbine fuel as a result of the weakening rupiah.

Citilink, the budget airline unit of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, will receive eight Airbus A320s between June and December this year to cover international routes.

The carrier, which currently operates 22 aircraft, made its international-route debut last month with a flight from Surabaya, East Java, to Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

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