Lion Mentari Airlines, which operates Lion Air, expects to carry more passengers this year, capitalizing on growing purchasing power of middle-class Indonesians.
Lion Air expects to carry 32 million air passengers this year, 33 percent more than last year. The airline may have taken in 30 million air travelers by the end of the first nine months of this year.
Edward Sirait, general affairs director at Lion Air, said that the company as expanded it fleet and routes, making it one of the most favorite airline operators in Indonesia.
Last year alone, Indonesian airline operators saw as many as 63.6 million passengers. Lion Air alone carried 23.9 million passengers.
With recent renovation of some of the country’s airports including Soekarno-Hatta and Ngurah Rai international airports, for example, more people would prefer to take air travel than land and by ship. Apart from that, a strong purchasing power would make more Indonesians to travel by air. Such consumer pattern will then benefit many Indonesian airline operator including Lion Air.
The number of air travelers is expected to increase this year and in 2014, according to government estimates.
Lion Air has to compete with other airline operators such as Garuda Indonesia and Sriwijaya Air in the Indonesia’s skies Lion Air has been aggressive enough in expanding its fleets in the country and set up joint companies with overseas companies.
Rusdi Kirana, Lion’s president director, has said that the company expected its revenue to reach $2 billion.
Thai Lion, a subsidiary of Lion Mentari Airlines, said last week that it will start flying to Thailand by the end of this year, as a part of the airline’s efforts to expand across Southeast Asia.
Rusdi said the company had established Thai Lion in collaboration with a Thai partner. “We expect to start flying Thai Lion at the end of this year,” Rusdi said last week.
Lion Air , he said, is preparing 70 to 80 aircraft for the Thai operation, which will initially fly Bangkok-Jakarta and Bangkok-Kuala Lumpur routes twice a day, as well as domestic routes in Thailand.
Herry Bakti Singayuda Gumay, civil aviation director at the Indonesian Transportation Ministry, confirmed that it had issued an operating license to Thai Lion this month.
“Lion Group has shown that Indonesia is not only good on its home turf, but can also compete in regional markets,” he said.
In March, Lion Air launched Malindo Airways, a Malaysia-based budget carrier, in collaboration with Malaysia’s National Aerospace and Defense Industries.
Lion Air’s fleet currently stands at about 125 aircraft, including planes operated by subsidiary Wings Air and the recently launched Batik Air