Lion Air moves transit hub closer to Changi Airport

Courtesy Reuters

Courtesy Reuters


LION AIR is clearly making moves to be a prominent player when Asean Open Skies 2015 kicks in, especially when it is expected that home country Indonesia, which is the most populous nation in the region, will experience the highest growth in air movements as a result of the liberalization.

Lion Air has plans to grow the airport on Batam island – a stone’s throw from Singapore – as an alternative transit hub to the main but increasingly congested Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta. From there, the airline hopes to fly to destinations beyond Indonesia, such as Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Jeddah, New Delhi and Mumbai.

Lion Air president Rusdi Kirana said: “The distance is actually shorter if you transit in Batam rather than flying south to Jakarta to transit. The shorter flying time makes flying more convenient for passengers and it means aircraft burn less fuel, leading to significant cost savings.”

Considering Indonesia’s multi-island geography, it may not matter where the transit takes place if the cost is kept low and the convenience of connection is not that much worse off. There is no reason why Lion Air cannot use Batam for its spoke operations but only for its flights. Jakarta will continue to be favored by the major legacy airlines and the added advantage of accessibility by land.

But what is more interesting about Lion Air’s move Batam’s proximity to Singapore’s Changi Airport. Is the airline looking at a siphoning possibility at lower costs in competition with airlines such as AirAsia which had for a long time been pestering the Singapore government to allow it to operate out of a domestic but separate base? Lion Air too has announced its intention to hub its flights at Changi with Open Skies, and Batam is near enough.

Boosting his proposal, Mr Kirana also announced Lion Air’s launch of a hangar on Batam to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul services, the first of four such hangars

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