Indonesia's third-largest commercial airline, Sriwijaya Air, is planning to acquire Boeing 737-800s by the end of the year and later add turboprops.

The airline has a fleet of 27 737-200/300/400s but is hoping to add its first -800 in October in time to celebrate its seventh anniversary on 10 November, says Sriwijaya's president director Chandra Lie., who says he wants to add another eight 737s this year on lease.

Some aircraft will be -300/400s, but Lie says he wants two or three -800s.

Sriwijaya wants -800s to remain competitive against Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air, which are adding new 737s, and the -800 is important for the carrier's international expansion, he says.

Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-200
 © Bailey/
Sriwijaya Air currently operates 27 737-200/300/400

The airline is largely a domestic player, but it serves Singapore and Malaysia's Penang island. Lie says in the coming years it wants to launch services to countries such as Australia and China.

As well as fleet growth, Sriwijaya's new 737-800s will be used to phase out the 737-200s, although the smaller capacity of the -200s means Sriwijaya is also looking to add turboprops in 2012, says Lie, to take over smaller routes and to launch feeder services.

It has been considering the ATR 72-500 and Bombardier Q400 and would ideally like to add turboprops earlier, but one issue is finding enough pilots, says Lie.

Sriwijaya is opening a flying school on the island of Bangka, off the south coast of Sumatra, to address that problem, says Lie. It has acquired two Piper Warrior IIIs and plans to acquire Piper Seminoles for the school, he adds.

The first batch of 20 students start in April and will graduate and receive their commercial pilots' licence in 2012, Lie says.

Sriwijaya has its own 737-200 simulator at its Jakarta training centre and the airline has bought a 737-300/400 simulator that it is arranging to have shipped to Indonesia, Lie adds.

Source: Flight International