A new vision for the skies: Model for air transportation evolves to boost regional interlinkages

Along with the boom in Indonesian aviation has come a realignment. While the country has 15 airports designated as international gateways, and direct flights have long been available on major routes, new connections are being opened between smaller airports in Indonesia and cities throughout ASEAN. The hub-and-spoke model is evolving into a more point-to-point structure.

The activity is frenetic, with new services being offered every month. In 2013 Mandala Airlines will open 10 new routes, including Surabaya-Singapore and Surabaya-Kuala Lumpur, while Cebu Pacific will start flying the Manila-Denpasar route in March 2013. Mandala is also considering a connection to Perth, Australia. Lion Air commenced a Kuala Lumpur-Bandung service in October 2012, and Tiger Airways started offering a flight on the Singapore-Surabaya route in January 2012.

SECOND-TIER: Batavia Air started flying Denpasar-Hangzhou in May 2012 as well as a Jakarta-Guangzhou service. In August 2012 Indonesia AirAsia added a Johor Bahru-Surabaya service, which Firefly also offers, and a Lombok-Kuala Lumpur flight, which had been serviced by Silk Air since October 2011. Garuda has opened a Denpasar-Haneda route, complementing the existing Jakarta-Narita and Denpasar-Narita routes. Mandala has begun a Medan-Singapore service and Silk Air has added a Singapore-Bandung route. Second-tier cities are being directly connected to international destinations or to second- or third-tier cities regionally.

At the same time, new domestic services are popping up, designed to take passengers from small cities to secondary international centres. Garuda has opened Surabaya-Ampenan and Surabaya-Semarang services, while Indonesia AirAsia has commenced Surabaya-Banding and Surabaya-Denpasar. Lion Air has a Surabaya-Banyuwangi service. Indonesia’s route map has been transformed as more traffic goes directly overseas, or to smaller hubs and then overseas. Part of this comes from simple necessity: Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airport is just too crowded. It is above capacity now and the planned expansion will take years, so avoiding the country’s main gateway makes sense. The changes are also a result of the aviation boom in Indonesia.

The Jakarta Globe reported in January 2013 that the $280.2m expansion of Ngurah Rai International Airport had reached 65% completion, with construction set to end in May 2013. Local press have also reported on plans to build and relocate 45 new airports over the next decade, with the first phase including 24 airports by 2017 and the completion date set for 2022.

At the same time, long-term trends are changing the way the industry is configured. Following the global economic crisis of 2008-09, the countries of Southeast Asia became more interdependent as they could no longer rely on the markets of the West. The result has been a rapid growth of intra-ASEAN trade and travel. Shipping companies are already looking at the possibility of direct connections between Jakarta and Bangkok, a route not seriously considered before due to lack of volume and because the port at Singapore is a very efficient trans-shipment point. The same is happening with respect to air travel.

INTERLINKED: The rise of a more interlinked Asia is being formally recognised and taken to a new level in certain parts of the region. The Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area ( BIMPEAGA), founded in 1994, signed a memorandum of understanding in 2012 to improve air connectivity and cooperation in the sub-region. Connections are already being made, such as the Manado, Sulawesi-Davao City, Mindanao route, being served by Wings Air, a Lion Air subsidiary, as of July 2012.

OPEN SKIES: The ASEAN open skies policy will lead to even more direct flights. According to the ASEAN Multilateral Agreement on Air Passenger Service, the region is to have fully open skies by 2015, allowing for third, fourth and fifth freedoms. Once fully implemented and combined with measures mandated by the ASEAN Economic Community, the regional airline market will function more wholly, and new routes will be established to meet demand.

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The Report: Indonesia 2013

Transport & Logistics chapter from The Report: Indonesia 2013

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