Batik Air Malaysia to add three more aircraft by year-end for expansion in Asia Pacific

KUALA LUMPUR: Batik Air Malaysia, formerly known as Malindo Air, expects to add three new aircraft to its fleet of 28 by end-2023, to cater to its expansion in Asia Pacific. The additional aircraft are a Boeing 737 MAX 8 and two Airbus A330s.

Lion Group's group strategic director Datuk Chandran Rama Muthy told the Business Times that the new airplanes are needed to service Batik Air's expanding international routes in Asia Pacific as the carrier focuses on strengthening its jet operations.

Currently, Batik Air has a fleet size of 16 B737 MAX 8, 10 B737-800 and two A330s.

The airline, which is a unit of Indonesia's Lion Group, also operates seven ATR 72-600 out of Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah (SAAS) Airport.

When asked if there could be potential delays in receiving new aircraft due to supply chain issues, Chandran said Batik Air is not affected as most of the airplanes are sourced from the second-hand market.

"These are from the second-hand market, used aircraft. So, we're not affected. We do have a few brand-new aircraft, about eight or nine, that we took directly from Boeing in 2017," Chandran said in an interview with the Business Times recently.

The narrow-body and wide-body aircraft are used to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Saudi Arabia, to name a few as well as Batik Air's new destinations including Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Dubai and Istanbul, Türkiye.

Moving forward, Batik Air would eventually scale down its ATR turboprop aircraft operation in line with the redevelopment of the SAAS Airport, also known as Subang Airport, to cater to jet operations.

"ATRs with 72-seater and jets with 140-seater can never compete with each other. It's not an apple to apple comparison. We're preparing ourselves to have more jets subject to regulatory approval and the opening up of Subang Airport for jet operations.""If Subang (Airport) is opening up with jet (operations), then we can immediately get into that market because we have the slots available. We have our ground handling available. We have all the infrastructure," Chandran said.

He added that once Batik Air phases out its ATRs, the airplanes would be deployed to another airline subsidiary within the Lion Group.

Batik Air is also looking to set up its own maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre in Sepang to service its fleet. "We're talking to Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd on a land near the airport (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) to set up our own hangar facility. That's (the discussion) ongoing," Chandran said.

He added that Batik Air has also purchased some four acres (1.62ha) of land in Bandar Enstek to expand its airline kitchen facility on its current two acres (0.81ha) of land.

The operation of the expanded the kitchen facility is expected to be completed within two years.

Batik Air currently serves its own cooked meals onboard its flights. I

t has a partnership with Pos Aviation Sdn Bhd to deliver the meals to its aircraft.

When asked if Batik Air has plans to become a big player in the local airline catering market, Chandran said there are plans to serve other carriers once its kitchen facility is expanded.

"Definitely. Even today we have the license to service other airlines but we're not doing it now because we're focusing within the group (Lion Group). We're supplying to Batik Air Indonesia as well as ourselves," Chandran said adding that Batik Air does receive requests on ad-hoc basis.

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