Lion Air keen to set up airline in Singapore

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Lion Air has initiated talks with Singapore authorities about its interest in setting up an airline in the city-state.

A formal application for an air operator's certificate (AOC), however, has not been filed, says Lion Air president director Rusdi Kirana during an interview with Flightglobal.

If Lion were to receive a Singapore AOC, it would probably set up a full-service carrier, says Kirana.

Lion Air expects passenger numbers to hit 35-40 million next year and hubs are necessary to bring these passengers to destinations beyond Asia-Pacific, says Kirana.

"We're definitely interested in setting up an airline in Singapore, but we don't want to wait too long. We'll be happy if Singapore gives us an AOC," he says.

"Singapore and Indonesia have a good relationship. Singapore is also investing in Indonesia's Mandala, so why not allow other airlines to invest in Singapore? We do not want to take your market, but rather build the Indonesian market."

However, Kirana adds that the carrier is "not desperate", since it will have a hub in Kuala Lumpur next year when Malindo Airways, Lion's joint venture with Malaysia's National Aerospace and Defence Industries, launches. Having more hubs will, however, offer its passengers more options.

He also believes that the low-cost market in Singapore is saturated and that a full-service carrier will "have a better chance".