Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Susi Air eyes 30 percent growth this year

JP/Nurfika Osman, The Jakarta Post

Tuesday, May 28 2013, 11:51 AM

Pioneering flight operator PT ASI Pudjiastuti Aviation (Susi Air) says it is aiming for 30 percent business growth this year, with a plan to increase its fleet to at least 53 aircraft by year-end.

The firm — one of the country’s major aviation pioneers — has also secured almost half of government-run pioneer route projects this year, connecting remote points across the archipelago to big cities in their respective regions.

“We will be able to increase our seat capacity by 20 percent by having between five to eight new aircraft, and that means 30 percent business growth. We are going to receive new Pilatus Porter, Cessna Grand Caravan and Diamond Twin Star planes to support the growth,” Susi Air operational director Christian Von Strombeck said last week when The Jakarta Post was invited to the company’s pilot training facilities in Pangandaran, West Java.

Christian said the new planes were going to be based on Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua islands, where demand was “very high”.

“Demand for air transportation in small cities is increasing nowadays. Every month, one or two regents or transportation officials request Susi Air to fly to their places because air travel is much faster and more efficient,” he said.

The airline now flies its passengers to 105 destinations nationwide on a range of 47 aircraft types, including the Cessna Grand Caravan C208B, Piaggio Avanti II P180, Pilatus Porter PC-6, Agusta Grand A109S, Agusta Grand AW119Ke, Diamond Twin Star DA42, Air Tractor AT802 and Piper Archer PA 28-181.

As many as 17 of its aircraft are based on Jayapura, Nabire, Timika, Wamena, Manokwari and Biak — all in Papua island — flying to 38 destinations, he said.

He also said Susi Air had secured government contracts worth Rp 136.2 billion (US$13.89 million) out of a total of Rp 300 billion, to fly 77 new routes in the country out of a total of 130 on offer this year.

The pioneer routes are tendered by the Transportation Ministry every year in order to end isolation and help develop remote areas in the archipelago.

The government provides those routes with subsidies accounting for between 30 and 40 percent of the total operational costs and 80 percent of the tickets sold to customers.

He said that with this year’s government contracts, the company almost doubled the Rp 73.6 billion it booked last year with 44 routes.

Growth target aside, the airline says it also wants to capture the Cessna pilot-training market in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions by expanding its Pangandaran pilot training facilities.

“Pilots from Asian countries, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand sometimes find it hard to get visas when they want to continue their training in the US,” CEO and owner Susi Pudjiastuti said.

“Therefore, we provide the training facilities here to make things easier for them.” The airline has the first and only Cessna Caravan simulator outside of the US.

Source:   http://www.thejakartapost.com