Thai Lion..soon

Thai Lion..soon
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The country’s largest private airline, Lion Air, is set to strengthen its foothold in Southeast Asia’s aviation market by establishing Thai Lion in Thailand by the end of this year. The group CEO Rusdi Kirana said that the company is going to collaborate with a local airline in Thailand. “We expect to launch Thai Lion at the end of this year and we are preparing 70 to 80 aircraft for the operation,” Rusdi said in Jakarta on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 2nd Congress of Indonesian Diaspora. He said that the firm plans to officially announce the new Bangkok-based airline in the next month or two. Thai Lion will likely use the narrow body jet liner Boeing B737-900 Extended Range (ERs) and the B737-800 Next Generation (NGs) aircraft. “We are going to strengthen our networks in Thailand, China and Japan with the new airline. Some routes that we will provide during the first phase of the operations are Bangkok–Jakarta, Bangkok–Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok–Chiang Mai,” he said. To help support its expansion, he said that the group secured loans from banks in the US and Europe. However, he refused to elaborate further on how much the firm has invested for its new business in Thailand. Thailand was one of Indonesia’s most important markets for tourism and business investment. According to the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry’s information center data, The number of Thai tourists visiting the country grew by 16.15 percent during January–May 2013 to 40,668 from 35,013 in the same period last year. Bilateral agreement between the two countries allow aircraft from each nation to fly as many as 70 times a week. The group also wants to capture the potential air travel market in Myanmar and Australia in 2014. Before expanding its business in Bangkok, the company had collaborated with Malaysia’s National Aerospace and Defence Industries (NADI) by setting up Malindo Airways. The carrier, whose name was derived from the names of respective countries: Malaysia and Indonesia, was launched in mid March this year and it currently serves domestic routes in Malaysia and international routes from Malaysia to Dhaka, Bangladesh and Pekanbaru, Indonesia with other destinations planned including China, Vietnam, India, Cambodia and other Indonesian cities. Malindo currently operates four B737-900 ERs and two Avions de Transport Régional ATR 72-600s. In addition, he said the group aims to make Hang Nadim Airport in Batam, Riau Islands as its new hub in a bid to get closer to destinations in Asia and the Middle East. They plan to start providing international flight services from Batam to destinations in the Middle East, China and Thailand next year. “We also chose Batam because the airport in Cengkareng [Soekarno-Hatta International Airport] is overcrowded. We need a new hub to accommodate the international traffic,” he went on. Last week, the group announced that it wanted to expand its networks by entering smaller cities across the country to tap into the high potential of the air travel market from destinations with shorter runways such as Mentawai (West Sumatra), Banda Neira (Maluku), and Jailolo (North Maluku). They want to purchase 50 units of sub-20 N219 aircraft from the state run aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) with an option to buy another 50. Each N219 will cost around US$4.5 million to 5.5 million. Jakarta Post

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