Indonesia's Batik Air to launch international service

SINGAPORE - An airline owned by Indonesia's Lion Group announced Thursday it will launch international services with a flight from Jakarta to Singapore later this year.

Batik Air, which is part of the Lion Group that also owns Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air, will start the flights by November or December, said its chief executive Achmad Luthfie.

The airline, which operates as a full-service carrier with meals and drinks and offers business and economy class seating, began operations in May last year servicing domestic destinations in Indonesia.

"Our first international destination will be Singapore and we aim to have more than a daily service on the route," Luthfie said in a statement.

"We chose Singapore as our first international destination because we can see that demand continues to increase," he added.

Speaking at a news conference in Singapore, Luthfie said Batik Air plans to fly next from the Indonesian capital to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

Luthfie said that eventually it is looking to fly to Southern China and Western Australia.

On the domestic front, the airline plans to more than double its network to 22 destinations including Palembang, Solo and Batam.

Luthfie said the carrier is currently filling 90 per cent of seats.

Batik Air operates six Boeing 737-900ER aircrafts and is based in Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport.

Six Airbus A320 aircraft and four Boeing 737-800 planes will be delivered by the end of this year, the airline said.

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of over 17,000 islands cutting across three time zones, relies heavily on air transport and is experiencing a sharp growth in its aviation sector, thanks to a rapidly rising middle class.