Batik Air to spread its wings in Asia

Batik Air to spread its wings in Asia

Full-service carrier Batik Air is 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 said on Thursday 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 per cent. 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 favourable business climate under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration.

"With economic growth forecast above 5 per cent 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.

On Wednesday, French aircraft manufacturer Airbus delivered three Airbus A320 to Lion Group. The three aircraft each seat 144 economy class passengers and 12 business class passengers and will be operated by Batik Air.

It was the first delivery of 234 Airbus aircraft purchased by the group in 2013.

Edward said that two Airbus planes and two Boeing planes were also scheduled to be delivered for Batik Air before the end of this 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 per cent 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 (S$545 million) expansion project at Halim in November, with state-owned construction company PT Adhi Karya assigned to the construction.

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