Batik Air – a Lion in sheep’s clothing in the Australia market?

Indonesia based Lion Air Group’s Batik Air CEO Achmad Luthfie confirmed this month that the airline plans to pursue significant expansion in the Australia-Bali market in 2019. The airline will take delivery of new generation narrow body long haul A320neo family aircraft. Capt Luthfie said Batik is looking at serving several Australian airports including smaller regional destinations.

Batik Air has been one of the world’s fastest growing airlines since it was launched in 2013. The airline added 10 aircraft in 2017 and ended the year with 51 aircraft, including 37 A320ceos, eight 737-800s and six 737-900ERs.

There are currently 10 airports in Australia that are served from Bali, although one, Townsville, will lose its link with Bali in Mar-2018 when Jetstar suspends the route. Only three airports in Australia – Melbourne, Sydney and Perth – are linked with Jakarta.

Capt Luthfie added that Batik will start taking A320neo family aircraft in 2019 with eight deliveries – a mix of A320neos and A321neoLRs. The airline plans to shift focus to international expansion in 2019, as the new A320neo and A321neoLR fleets are intended for international routes. The A321neoLRs will mainly be used for Australia and North Asia, while the A320neos will be used for shorter international routes.

So far, Batik has focused almost entirely on the domestic market. It currently has only six international destinations – Chennai in India; Guilin in China; Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia; Perth and Singapore.

Batik Air network map for the week commencing 12-Feb-2018

Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG

Less than 8% of Batik’s current seat capacity is in the international market. Capt Luthfie said Batik will focus almost entirely on domestic expansion in 2018, although it may add a second route to China and a second route to India.

Batik’s A320neos will have the same configuration as its A320ceos, which feature 144 economy seats and 12 business class seats. The A321neoLRs will have 200 economy seats and 12 business class seats.

Batik has seatback IFE monitors on all its aircraft, in both cabins. While Batik is a full service airline, it was built on a low cost platform borrowed from Lion Air, and has similar trip costs to its low cost sister.

The A321neoLR will enable Batik to reduce its already low unit costs further, given the relatively high density 212-seat configuration. Batik’s largest aircraft is now the 737-900ER, which has 168 economy and 12 business class seats.

Batik has considered A330s, which other Lion Group airlines operate, but has decided that large new generation narrowbody aircraft are a better fit for medium haul international markets such as Australia-Indonesia.

Batik at one point had ambitions to start a domestic airline in Australia It has the potential significantly to shake up the Australia-Bali market. And as it expands its international network beyond Denpasar, its potential for connecting markets in Asia will grow.

The Garuda, Qantas and Virgin Australia groups may need to make strategic adjustments in order to compete effectively against Batik A321neoLRs.

To read more, visit Australia-Bali airline market: full service airlines Qantas and Lion Group accelerate Bali growth