ID/Tri Murti & Efendi
Indonesia’s growing middle class is expected to fuel strong growth in the nation’s aviation sector, with air passenger numbers predicted to rise faster this year, a leading industry executives says.
Garuda Indonesia’s vice president for corporate communications, Pujobroto, estimated that demand for air services would grow sharply this year.
“Typically, the growth of air passengers is twice the growth of the economy. … However, this year I believe it could grow around 15 percent to 20 percent,” he said.
That pace would be faster than last year’s, which, according to Transportation Ministry data, saw 13.1 percent growth from 2010, up to 66 million air passengers.
Of that total, 59 million were domestic flyers and 7 million were international travelers.
Garuda, the nation’s flag carrier, said it enjoyed a 14 percent year-on-year rise in revenue in the January-July period. Its revenue rose to $1.7 billion, from $1.4 billion.
“In January-to-July, we have carried 10 million passengers, higher than in the same period in 2011, which was 8.6 million. In 2011, we flew 17.1 million passengers,” Pujobroto told Investor Daily on Friday.
Pujobroto said Garuda is now expecting the arrival of its order for 36 Bombardier CRJ1000 Nextgen, a narrow-body aircraft. Garuda plans to use the planes to serve the growing air traffic in Indonesia’s east.
Tengku Burhanuddin, the secretary general of the Indonesian National Air Carriers Association, said a rise in the number of middle-income citizens was of benefit to the airline industry, which was leading to passengers flying more frequently and travelers being more willing to tolerate the fare hikes that often accompany peak flying seasons.
He said with this year’s Ramadan and Idul Fitri now complete, the next peak season would come a few weeks before Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Apart from rising ticket prices due to high demand, Tengku said flyers should be prepared to see price increases as a result of the weakening rupiah and rising oil prices.
The commercial director of Sriwijaya Air, Toto Nursatyo, was upbeat about the ability of the nation’s airlines to handle the growing demand for air travel.
“The expected jump in passenger numbers that usually happens at the end of the year can still be managed [by domestic airlines],” he said.