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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lion Air to Buy 10 Wide-Bodied Airplanes: Manado to Become Wings Hub to Eastern Indonesia

the photograph of the newest Wings Air ATR 72-500 when take the first flight to Manado

the article as published in Bisnis Indonesia daily newspaper
Wednesday, 06/01/2010 00:00 WIB

Lion Air to Buy 10 Wide-Bodied Airplanes: Manado to Become Wings Hub to Eastern Indonesia

JAKARTA: Lion Air will bring ten wide-bodied airplanes starting in the second semester this year to support flight expansion to East Asia and Australia.

President Director of PT Lion Mentari Airlines Rusdi Kirana said the airline was interested in importing wide-bodied Boeing 777-200ER or Airbus A330-300 airplanes.

"We will buy the airplanes with loans from financial institutions," he said before meeting with Minister of Transportation Freddy Numberi yesterday.

He said the wide-bodied airplanes would be used to fly to Australia and countries in East Asia, such as South Korea, Japab, and China. "We expect the evaluation of the destination cities will be completed."

Rusdi confirmed the airplanes would be new ones, unlike used Boeing 747-400 airplane operated to serve Jakarta-Jeddah route. "We buy new airplanes since Lion wants to go international."

After the airplanes arrived, he said, Lion would automatically replace the two B747-400 airplanes.

He revealed Lion would fly Jeddah route seven times per week starting in February 2010, up from the current twice a week, thanks to landing permits given by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

General Director of Lion Air Edward Sirait disclosed the airline was studying the size of aviation markets in several destination cities in Far East, especially in China and South Korea.

The flight to Far East is considered potential due to high economic growth in the region despite the financial crisis.

ATR armada
Rusdi added the airline would also bring 30 units of ATR 72-500 airplanes with financial support from the largest financial firm in France, BNP Paribas.

According to the plan, the 30 new airplanes will be operated by Wings Air, a subsidiary of Lion Air, and be based at Sam Ratulangi airport, Manado, North Sulawesi.

Today, Rusdi said, he would officially welcome the arrival of three units of ATR 72-500 airplanes in Manado as part of the procurement of 30 airplanes gradually in the next two years.

"The airplanes will be operated in the eastern Indonesia with Manado as the hub."

Routes that Wings Air is eyeing in the eastern Indonesia are to Mamuju, Nabire, and Wamena, and in the western Indonesia, such as Medan-Gunung Sitoli route.

Operational Director of Wings Air Captain Redi Irawan said this year the airline would receive 10 ATR 72-500 airplanes including the current three airplanes and five more airplanes next year. "We hope the two other airplanes can be shipped by February," he said in Manado yesterday.

The first and second airplanes are received at the end of December 2009 and the third one yesterday.

ATR 72-500 airplane has the latest technology using six propellers for each engine, up from previous four propellers. (Bisnis/hwi/iaa)

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