KUCHING (April 5, 2013): The newly-established joint Malaysia-Indonesia airline Malindo Air, which celebrated its new flights between Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Kuching yesterday, will operate international flights from KL to New Delhi, India in June.
Its CEO Chandran Rama Muthy said it will also start flights from Sabah and Sarawak to China and Hong Kong by early next year.
"Regional flights (from Sabah and Sarawak) will start at the end of this year or maybe early next year. Right now, the idea is to make Malaysia a transit hub for tourists that fly in via Lion Air and the Malindo network," he told a press conference here yesterday.
"The idea is to make KL, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu as transit hubs. We want people from Jakarta to go to KL and Kuching. Later, we want people from Pontianak to go to KL and Kuching."
Its next domestic destination out of KL is Miri, which will begin in June, followed by Sibu and Bintulu later.
"Lion Air carried nearly 30 million passengers last year and expects to carry 36 million this year, (we hope to) capture 10% of the market that go to Kuching, Miri, Bintulu and Sibu," he said.
Meanwhile, Chandran kept mum on talks that Malindo Air would begin operations out of the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang in May.
"We're focused on jet operations at the moment," he said, adding that it will make an announcement if there is a change in its plans. Currently, the Subang airport mainly serves general aviation and turboprop flights.
Chandran also said Malindo Air achieved over 70% passenger load factor last month and aims for load factor of between 80% and 90% for the full year. The airline started flights on March 22. It currently offers four daily flights between KL and Kuching, and three daily flights between KL and Kota Kinabalu.
"PT Lion Grup (of Indonesia) is huge, so we have economies of scale that we can leverage on. The idea is to have a good product and low cost operations," he said.
Aviation analysts have opined that hybrid airline Malindo Air is unlikely to sustain its low fares in view of seemingly higher costs due to added features, compared with low-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd.
Malindo Air is expected to have 12 units of Boeing 737-900ER aircraft by year-end. The airline is 51% controlled by National Aerospace and Defence Industries Sdn Bhd and 49% by Lion Grup.