Jakarta. Pelita Air Service, a subsidiary of the state-owned energy company Pertamina, has made its inaugural scheduled flight from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali on Thursday, marking a key milestone in its transformation to tap into Indonesia's domestic air travel market.
Pelita was the latest airline seeking to break into Indonesia's scheduled flights market as the country's airline industry is looking forward to recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides.
Dendy Kurniawan, Pelita Air's president director, said the airline chose Jakarta-Bali as the first route because it was the busiest domestic route in Indonesia.
"This route was chosen because it is a tourist's favorite destination, as the pandemic gradually turns into an endemic," Dendy said.
He said the airline expected full-packed flights on the route during the Idul Fitri 2022 holiday period next week and subsequent high load from business travel afterward.
Pelita Air flies once per day from Soekarno-Hatta Airport at 09.20 a.m. Western Indonesia Time and arriving in Bali at 12.10 p.m. Central Indonesia Time. The return flight departs at 02.55 p.m and arrives at 03.45 p.m.
Pelita Air Service currently operates two narrow-body jets Airbus A320-200. In the future, the airline plans to open travel routes to other favorite tourist and business destinations in Indonesia.
"The return of regular Pelita Air flights is expected to return passengers' longing to experience a pleasant flight with Pelita Air," Deddy said.
Pelita Air began as a chartered flight under Pertamina, providing air transportation to the company's various oil and gas drilling locations across Indonesia. As of December 31, 2020, the company operates 15 helicopters and nine aircraft.
The company also has orders for 23 A320 aircraft, planned to be delivered by 2023.
Not to Repeat Predecessors' Mistake
Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Erick Thohir, who launched the inaugural flight on Thursday, said Pelita Air's foray into the scheduled flight market was part of the government's effort to serve domestic air travelers.
Erick said pre-pandemic travel data showed that domestic travelers make up about 72 percent of Indonesia's air travels, with an economic value of approximately Rp 1,400 trillion ($96.5 billion). That compared to international air travel that generated around Rp 300 trillion for the economy.
"This means that there is tremendous potential that the state-owned enterprises have not maximized in the domestic aviation sector," Erick said.
"So, I request and require that Pelita Air to become one of the backbones of the development of the domestic aviation industry, not international," Erick said.
Erick doesn't want Pelita Air to repeat mistakes by its predecessors. Erick asked Pelita Air management to implement good corporate governance by prioritizing good, transparent business processes and focusing on the domestic market.
Other state-controlled airlines were marred with inefficient management and corruptions in the past. The government decided shut down Merpati Airlines last year after the pioneering airlines failed to resolve its financial troubles for years.
Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia is also struggling to avoid bankruptcy, following years of mismanagement and corruptions by its top brass.
"I don't hesitate if it happens again [in Pelita Air], I will report it [to the law enforcers] myself. This airline must be managed transparently, focusing on the domestic market, which I feel is an opportunity for Pelita to become big," Erick said.
With Garuda is now focus on survival, Indonesia air travel market is now controlled by Rusdi Kirana's Lion Air Group. Erick said he hoped Pelita Air can ensure domestic air travel market remains competitive.
"We don't want Indonesia's big market to become a monopoly or oligopoly," Erick said.