Indonesian airlines buck the global trend of less in-flight service; Lion Air to create full-service airline, Sriwijaya Air to offer business class.
Now that Garuda Indonesia’s budget airline Citilink is winning awards and
some would say, more importantly market share from its low-cost competitors, two Indonesian domestic airlines are planning to challenge Garuda’s virtual monopoly on the full-service market.
Indonesia’s most popular domestic airline is going to launch a new full-service airline in 2013: Space Jet. Some of the promised services include in-flight internet and audio/video on demand, although the former might not be free. It is not known how this will impact the business class service currently available on selected Lion Air flights. Space Jet also plans to commence international services in 2014.
Meanwhile, another airline is looking to
copy emulate Lion Air’s current set-up of a small business class section at the front of some planes:
Their new Boeing 737-800 aircraft – arriving in September 2012 – will have four rows of business class seating. Other benefits are still to be finalised, but are said to include in-flight meals and a pre-departure executive lounge. The latter benefit is currently only available to members of Sriwijaya Air’s little-known frequent flyer program.
It is not known how Garuda Indonesia will respond to the increased competition domestically, but internationally they are already taking it to the next level. For the first time, starting in 2013 Garuda will offer a first class cabin, called “super first class”. Super first class will be available in its new Boeing 777 aircraft, for non-stop flights to e.g. Amsterdam, capital city of the Netherlands.
While other airlines around the world either reduce in-flight services or begin charging fees for them, it is interesting that some previously no-frills Indonesian airlines are heading in the opposite direction. As well as a desire to challenge Garuda, it might be a response to the increasing prosperity of the population, further evidence of the strong passenger growth in the Indonesian airline industry, or just a desire to do something different and stick out from the crowd of other domestic airlines.
However, Indonesia is yet to have an all business-class aircraft or airline.
While business class only airlines in the USA and Europe have all either gone bankrupt or changed to a multi-class service, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines do operate profitable all business class international flights.
An all business class aircraft/airline could feasibly work on Indonesia’s most popular domestic flight: Jakarta to Surabaya. This route is ranked #5 on the list of World’s Busiest Passenger Air Routes in terms of flights per week.
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