Double-digit spike over school holiday: Airlines
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Local airlines say that their domestic and international passenger load factors increased up to 15 percent during the two-week school holiday that ended on Sunday.
Even ailing PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines (Merpati) said that it booked from Rp 200 million (US$21,200) to Rp 1.2 billion in revenue a day during the vacation break.
“Our load factor during the school holiday increased up to 98 percent on almost every route because people travel with their family and friends,” Merpati president director Rudy Setyopurnomo told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
The airline’s load factor ranges from 70 to 85 percent during non-peak periods.
Merpati’s busiest routes over the school holiday were Jakarta-Makassar, Surabaya-Makassar, and Jakarta-Padang, in addition to traditional mainstay routes Jakarta-Denpasar, Jakarta-Surabaya, and Jakarta-Medan, he said.
The airline hoped to book an average load factor of 93 percent by year end, Rudy said. “We are ready to add more seats during the Idul Fitri holiday.”
Separately, Garuda Indonesia vice president for corporate communications Pujobroto said that the national flag carrier recorded a 10-to-15 percent increase in its load factor over the last two weeks, especially on its international routes.
The airline’s busiest routes during the school holiday were Jakarta-Denpasar, Jakarta-Yogyakarta, Jakarta-Singapore, Jakarta-Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta-Bangkok and Jakarta-Perth, he added.
“Indonesia’s strong economic growth has led more people to travel and we have seen double-digit gains during [school] holidays for the past several years,” Pujobroto told the Post.
Mid-class service carrier Sriwijaya Air and budget carrier Indonesia AirAsia (IAA) also reported double-digit increases in passenger load rates during the holiday.
Contacted separately, Sriwijaya Air spokesman Agus Soedjono and IAA spokeswoman Audrey Progastama attributed the growth to increased traffic on routes serving popular domestic and international tourist destinations, such as Denpasar, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.
As students and parents return to their usual routines, airlines are preparing for the next peak travel season: Idul Fitri, which sees an annual exodus of Muslims to hometowns across the archipelago.
The religious observation of Idul Fitri is slated to fall on Aug. 19 and 20, although the holiday will begin two days earlier, on Aug. 17, Independence Day, which falls on a Friday this year.
Garuda Indonesia and its subsidiary Citilink are preparing 91,044 extra seats for flights between Aug. 15 and 26, mostly on routes between Jakarta, Padang, Yogyakarta, Denpasar and Singapore.
The Transportation Ministry estimates that the number of air passengers during the Idul Fitri would rise from nearly 3 million people in 2011 to almost 3.3 million this year.