Indonesian buyers dominated this year’s Singapore Air-show, underscoring the vast Southeast Asian archipelago’s growing importance in the world aviation industry.

An expanding middle class, strong economic growth, political stability and the need to link the resource-rich islands are fuelling a travel boom that could spawn even more local airlines, industry executives and analysts say.

Budget carrier Lion Air grabbed the limelight at the beginning of the trade fair on Tuesday when it formally sealed a $22.4 billion deal for 230 aircraft with US aircraft maker Boeing.

Lion Air ordered 201 Boeing 737 MAX and 29 next-generation 737-900ERs, with purchase rights for an additional 150 planes for its domestic and regional operations.

Dinesh Keskar, vice president of Asia Pacific and India for sales at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, described the deal as “the largest order in the history of aviation that I can know of”.

With some 240 million people, Indonesia has the world’s fourth largest population and is the most far-flung archipelago with over 17,000 islands scattered across 33 provinces and three time zones between Singapore and Australia.

Indonesia’s economy grew 6.5 per cent last year, the fastest pace in 15 years, with growth projected at between 6.3 and 6.7 per cent this year.—AFP

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