Lion Air targets IPO when local market share hits 65%

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Lion Air has plans to launch an initial public offering on the Jakarta Stock Exchange, but will only do so when it gains a 65% market share in the country.

Speaking to Flightglobal in a wide-ranging interview, Lion Group chief executive Rusdi Kirana says the carrier has secured 45% of Indonesia's domestic market in the 14 years since it started operations. It is, however, hungry for more.

“I know some people say it won’t happen (Lion reaching 65% market share) because other airlines are also going to grow. But the thing is, has Tigerair grown? Has AirAsia grown? Citilink? Sriwijaya? No. But we’re going to grow to a 60-65% market share, and once we get there, we will go for an IPO,” he says.

Kirana adds that having a 65% market share would also mean a monopoly in certain cities or routes, which would require it to be transparent and accountable. Lion has always closely guarded its operational and financial figures, and an IPO would mean opening its books to public scrutiny.

Kirana says numerous parties have expressed interest in taking a stake in Lion: “I say wait. We make sure when you buy my stake, you don’t worry. Because the company will be more stable when we grow to a 65% market share.”

He adds that Lion’s relatively relaxed approach to a listing also reflects its financial health and how “we have our own money”.

Kirana says there are also no plans to sell off the carrier, and that he is in fact training his 22-year-old nephew, who will be graduating from university this year, to eventually take over as chief of Lion Air. Just last month, Kirana also appointed his general manager of sales and marketing Rudy Lumingkewas as his successor and CEO of Lion Air.