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Pacific Royale Airways plans to start commercial operations on March 1 with full-service flights, the president director of the airline said on Wednesday.

Samudra Sukardi said the Jakarta-based airline had invested up to $60 million as it prepares to make its debut.

As much as $40 million has gone to procure 10 aircraft, he said, with another $20 million being spent to buy jet fuel and finance operational activities.

“We will start flying in early March,” Samudra said.

By offering full-service flights, Pacific Royale hopes to be able to challenge the national flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia.

Samudra said he expected the airline would secure a full air operator’s certificate next month, which is required to operate commercial flights.

The carrier is 51 percent owned by Indonesian businesswoman Gunarni Gunawan, with the remaining 49 percent in the hands of an Indian investor, Tarun Trikha.

Regulations require Indonesia-based commercial airlines to be at least 51 percent owned by local investors and to operate at least 10 aircraft, .

Pacific Royale plans to operate five Fokker F-50 turboprops and five Airbus A320-200s. It expects two of the Fokkers and two of the Airbus planes it ordered to arrive between February and April.

The airline has permits to serve 81 routes, 30 percent of them international.

“We have three hubs, Jakarta, Surabaya and Batam,” said Samudra, who in 2002 was in the running to become president director of Garuda Indonesia. “But for international flights we will not fly through Jakarta because it is already too crowded. We will do it from Surabaya and Batam.”

Among the domestic routes it will serve are Jakarta-Surabaya, Surabaya-Banyuwangi and Batam-Natuna.

It has said that it hopes to eventually open routes to India and China.

Rising incomes have helped spur the growth of air travel in Indonesia. The number of domestic air travelers rose to 38.3 million in the first nine months of 2011, while the number of Indonesians flying overseas jumped 15 percent to 8.1 million, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) .

Garuda has said its plans for 2012 include an expansion of its fleet from 88 to 105 aircraft.

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