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Private airline Lion Air has announced the establishment of a new full-service airline called Batik Air, which will commence operations next year focusing on international routes.

“The full-service airline will focus on international routes such as South Asia, East Asia, and Australia,” Lion Air general affairs
director Edward Sirait said on the sidelines of Lion Air’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport Terminal 3 launch.

He was optimistic that Batik Air would be able to compete with national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia and new player Pacific Royale.

Batik Air’s aircraft livery will use a batik motif that will “distinguish them from other airlines,” said Edward. It will use 10 Boeing 737-800 Extended Range (ER) aircraft, in line with the 2009 Aviation Law which specifies the number of aircraft for full-service airlines.

Each passenger’s seat will be equipped with in-flight entertainment systems and passengers will be able to use phones and access the Internet during flights. “The new airline will offer the best service for passengers,” Edward added.

Lion Air is currently processing Batik Air’s flight permit (SIUAU) with the Transportation Ministry, and expects to launch the first flight in March 2013. After the airline secures the SIUAU, it will go on to process the Air Operator Certificate (AOC).

“Our economy remains healthy and the demand for full-service flights is increasing. We want to tap this opportunity,” Edward said.

Indonesia’s airline industry has seen rising demand, with the number of passengers on international flights increasing by almost 15 percent in the first quarter of this year to 2.8 million passengers, compared with the same period last year.

Domestic passengers topped 12.8 million in the January-March period, up 5.7 percent from 2011.

To meet the growing demand for flights particularly for business purposes, Lion Air will also launch its private jet service, Lion Biz Jet Air, next month for businesspeople especially in the mining and plantation industries.

Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of thermal coal and crude palm oil (CPO), with sites located far from Jakarta, mostly in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

The Lion Biz Jet Air will operate the nine-seater Hawker 900XP that was purchased at the Singapore Air Show on February, according to Edward.

Powered by two TFE731-50R turbo fan engines, the aircraft can fly up to six hours nonstop with a ceiling of 12,400 meters above sea level and a maximum range of 5,213 kilometers. This means the aircraft can fly directly from Jakarta to Jayapura, Timika or Hong Kong.

Lion Air will also open three new domestic routes this year; Surabaya-Ambon on Saturday (today), Surabaya-Palu, and Batam-Denpasar later in the fourth quarter.

“We will receive six new turbo-propeller ATR 72-500s to strengthen our city-hopper routes in Java, Sumatra, and Kalimantan,” Edward added, citing Malang–Denpasar, Malang-Bandung, Medan–Gunung Sitoli, and Medan–South Tapanuli routes as examples.

Lion Air currently operates 87 aircraft and flies to over 58 destinations across the country. The airline also flies to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jeddah from Jakarta daily.

(The Jakarta Post)