Lion Air outlines ambitious plans for Batam hub

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Indonesia's Lion Air plans to develop Batam’s Hang Nadim International Airport as a key hub for domestic services and later add on international flights from the airport.

“We are developing Batam first as a domestic hub,” says a Lion spokesman. “The reason is because we want to use Batam as an alternative transit hub for domestic passengers, in an effort to relieve congestion at Jakarta Soekarno Hatta. We think Batam can become one of our top domestic hubs.”

FlightMap Analytics shows that Lion is the dominant carrier operating from Batam. Key destinations it serves from there include Jakarta and Medan.

Next year, the carrier could also launch international routes from Batam using narrowbody aircraft, says the spokesman.

He adds that the airport has a great deal of spare capacity, which allows for fast turnaround times.

“There is no need for aircraft to queue to get on to the runway,” he says.

Lion’s plans for Batam coincide with its investment of $250 million to build an MRO facility at Hang Nadim on a 25ha (62 acres) plot of land at Batam airport. The facility, to be called Batam Aero Technic, will be opened in several phases.

In the first phase, it is building four hangars on a 4ha plot, construction of which started last September. These hangars will each be able to concurrently accommodate either three narrowbody or one widebody aircraft. They will be used to focus on the heavy maintenance of Lion's Boeing 737 fleet.

As part of its development of the Batam hub, Lion plans to invest in ferries between the island and nearby Singapore. It says the main reason for the ferries is the transport of components, but they will also be used for passengers.

It is unclear how the Singapore government would view such a service.

In December 2003, Singapore turned down AirAsia’s application to operate a bus service from downtown Singapore to Senai airport in Johor. Singapore's authorities never gave a reason for the move, but the industry viewed it as an attempt to protect the regional hub status of Changi airport. However, in early 2013, bus links between Singapore and Senai were allowed to start.