Citilink, a subsidiary of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, is set for take off as an independent airline after securing its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) on Thursday.
PT Citilink Indonesia’s CEO Arif Wibowo said the airline was ready to take on existing local low-cost carriers such as Lion Air, Indonesia AirAsia and Mandala Airlines.
“We do not mind the competition. We love the adrenaline rush,” Arif said on Thursday on the sidelines of AOC ceremony at the Transportation Ministry in Jakarta.
Citilink, whose fleet of 14 aircraft comprises Airbus-320s and Boeing 737-400s, currently serves eight domestic routes including Jakarta to Batam, Banjarmasin, Denpasar and Surabaya; and Surabaya to Medan and Denpasar.
The airline obtained a flight permit (SIUAU) from the regulator in February, authorizing Citilink to serve 70 domestic routes and 16 international routes in the future.
Arif said that Citilink was also planning to operate as a feeder airline to connect Garuda’s flights to remote areas using planes purchased by its parent.
Garuda previously announced plans to buy 50 units of either turbo-propeller driven ATR-72s or Bombardier Q400s at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK next month.
“Out of 220 Indonesian airports, not more than 37 airports are compatible for aircraft types such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320. We see this as a potential market,” Arif said, declining to specify when the feeder routes would be launched.
“In 2012, our focus is on strengthening domestic service. Next year, we will spread our wings toward regional flights,” Arif added.
Citilink was planning to expand service next year by serving other cities in the Southeast Asia region within three flight hours from Jakarta, such as Penang and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Singapore and some cities in Australia.
Separately, Garuda Indonesia president director Emirsyah Satar said that he was optimistic that Citilink would survive competition amid the growing domestic and regional market for low-cost carriers.
According to reports, the total number of passengers served by Indonesian airlines grew 16.78 percent to 58.79 million in 2011, including 8.15 million international passengers.
Lion Air ruled the domestic aviation market, serving 24.97 million passengers, or 41.59 percent of the total.
Garuda, including Citilink, was in second place, serving 18.76 million passengers, a 22.82 percent share of the market.
The flag carrier and its subsidiary have been aiming at serving a total of 45.4 million passengers a year by 2015, including 16.4 million passengers for Citilink.
Last year, the airline served a total of 15.5 millions of passengers, with 1.6 million transported by the budget carrier.
AirAsia only became an international carrier in Indonesia last year. It served 3.38 million passengers, or 41.58 percent of the international market, in 2011, making it the strongest international player last year.
“Currently, our group has a total of 95 aircraft, of which 14 airplanes are belonged to Citilink. We are targeting to have 194 aircraft, with 50 of them will be Citilink’s,” Emirsyah said. (asa)