Airport infrastructure issues and a shortage of pilots are some of the major issues affecting Indonesian carriers, says Citilink's chief executive.

Arif Wibowo notes that slot constraints at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airport, the limited operating hours at most airports in Indonesia, and a need to improve basic infrastructure in places such as Medan’s Kuala Namu airport have presented challenges in expanding further.

To tackle slot constraints at Soekarno-Hatta, Citilink has filed an application with Indonesia’s transport ministry to operate services out of Halim Perdanakusuma airport. Commercial services from Jakarta’s secondary airport could begin either this month or in November.

Other carriers such as its parent Garuda Indonesia and Tigerair Mandala have also made similar applications, while Lion Air’s premium subsidiary Batik Air has received approval from the country’s directorate general of civil aviation to move its operations to Halim.

Wibowo emphasises that Citilink is not planning to move out of Soekarno-Hatta, and would instead fly from Halim to destinations on the islands of Java and Sumatra islands. An early opening of Halim, however, could alleviate constraints at Soekarno-Hatta.

Wibowo also noted that Indonesian carriers are facing challenges in recruiting pilots, particularly as they expand.

In its latest Pilot & Technician Outlook, Boeing predicts that Southeast Asia will need 48,100 new pilots over the next 20 years.

Wibowo adds that to address the pilot shortage, Citilink plans to hire more local ab initio pilots and will begin flight simulator training on the Airbus A320 before the end of 2013.

“This will greatly help in [the] training for the pilots because our challenge is not just in terms of numbers, but the number of A320 flight simulators in Indonesia is limited,” he says.

Rival carriers Lion Air and Sriwijaya Air have already established flying schools. However, the Garuda Indonesia group has no plans to follow suit, and instead has focused on building relationships with independent flying schools.

Wibowo adds that he expects that the carrier's expatriate pilots from Europe will likely leave once the economic situation on the continent improves.