Garuda leaving options open for ATR operations

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Garuda Indonesia chief executive Emirsyah Satar has indicated that its low-cost subsidiary Citilink may not operate the carrier's incoming fleet of ATR 72-600 turboprops.

"We're leaving the option open," says Emirsyah when asked by Flightglobal Pro if Garuda would establish a new strategic business unit to operate the turboprops rather than the low-cost carrier.

Citilink has a letter of intent to order 25 ATR 72s, with options for a further 25. Delivery of the first aircraft is planned for September.

Citilink chief executive Arif Wibowo had previously told Flightglobal Pro that the airline would base its first five ATR 72s in Batam and operate a regional hub there.

However, Emirsyah has indicated that the turboprops may not fit in with Citilink's future network strategy.

"I think it's a matter of where we want to put Citilink going into the future," he says. "We are really at the drawing board in terms of refining it."

He adds that "the purpose [of the ATRs] is to be a feeder for our domestic trunk routes", raising the prospect that they may instead fly under the mainline carrier's brand.

This year, Citilink has been rapidly scaling up its fleet of Airbus A320s as it expands across the domestic market and moves towards phasing out its seven Boeing 737 Classics.

Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows that the budget carrier now has a fleet of 22 A320s, and has orders for a further 52, including 35 A320neos.

Garuda itself has also been expanding in the regional market under its own brand. The airline now has 11 Bombardier CRJ1000 regional jets which it uses on lower density routes from Jakarta and Medan.