Lion Air roars

Picture courtesy Boeing

Picture courtesy Boeing

LION AIR is roaring and living up to its name. Indonesia’s privately-owned airline – the second largest in the country – is making news with two recent record-breaking plane orders. It has just placed an order for 234 Airbus jets worth 18.4 billion euros (US$24 billion), following up on an order of 230 Boeing aircraft worth US$22.4 billion last year.

The two orders would place Lion Air, which currently has a fleet of 92 aircraft, among the world’s top 10 by number of aircraft. This is an impressive leap forward considering that the airline is banned from flying within both the European Union and the US because of safety concerns. Lion Air operates a large domestic network, capturing 45 per cent of the Indonesian market, and to Asian destinations. Outside the region, it operates to Saudi Arabia, ferrying mainly labour traffic.

But with the growing Indonesian air travel market at a predicated 20 per cent per annum and the impending liberalisation of the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) skies by 2015, Lion Air is pitching early to be a regional dominant player. It looks set to jostle with Malaysian AirAsia – the regional’s largest budget operator – and has recently inked a deal with Malaysia’s National Aerospace and Defense Industries (Nadi) to set up an airline based in Malaysia (Malindo Airways) in tit-for-tat reaction to AirAsia’s expansion into Indonesia.  (See Malindo Airways to challenge Airasia, Sep 19, 2012)

Lion Air was founded in 1999 by two brothers Kusnan and Rusdi Kirana. Already their ambition has outpaced the dream of many of their rivals, and may even be putting pressure on the national agenda to accommodate their expansion plan.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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