SINGAPORE: Lion Air mulls widebody choice for full-service launch in 2013

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Indonesia's Lion Air is in discussions with Boeing and Airbus to decide on a widebody aircraft for the launch of its long-haul full-service operations in 2014 or 2015.

The carrier is deciding between either 10 Boeing 787-8s or Airbus A330s, said its president director Rusdi Kirana at the signing ceremony for 27 ATR 72-600s at the Singapore Airshow.

He added that full service operation will begin in 2013 with the Boeing 737-900ERs it has on order, on domestic and regional routes. The aircraft will be fitted with video-on-demand and wifi.

By 2015, however, it wants to launch the services using widebodies based in Manado, Indonesia.

"Right now if I want to go to Tokyo, [I will] have to go from Singapore or Jakarta. This will take the same time as from Manado, and the government is also keen to make this city the gateway to Asia-Pacific," said Rusdi.

Rusdi dismissed concerns about overcapacity in Indonesia because of the fleet expansion plans of Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air. He believes that the Indonesian market has room to operate up to 1,000 aircraft.

"If you look at how many people there are in America, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia and compare the ASK, we have 230 million people but our ASK is much, much lower than Singapore's. We have the chance to grow," said Rusdi.

Indonesia's strong growth domestic product, with a 6.5% growth last year, and the upcoming liberalisation under the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Open Skies agreement in 2015, make for strong growth in the country's airline business.

The carrier may purchase more turboprops, said Rusdi, adding that the firm has interest in 120-seater ones.