An airline which once celebrated its birthday with a mass circumcision for 1500 kids and boasts about being Jennifer Hawkins’ one-time carrier is joining Australia’s budget air wars – and it promises to give high prices the chop.
Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air confirmed it would make its international debut by picking up a 49 per cent stake in Lion Air Australia to operate domestic and long haul services from Australia.
David Charlton, chief executive of Sky Air World, an infant aviation business trading out of Brisbane’s Eagle Farm airport, confirmed his company would own the remaining 51 per cent of the new business.
As a result of the deal Lion Air Australia will have the same air traffic rights to operate here as any Australian-owned airline.
Under Australian regulations a foreign investor can have a maximum 49 per cent stake in a local airline, but Lion Air president Rusdi Kiranait was reported as saying that his company would be the operator and control the business.
Lion Air Australia aims to get six new Boeing 737-900ERs into the air this year – more than Tiger Airways’ start-up fleet here.
The airline is also setting up a subsidiary in Thailand.
“The move would provide a further influx in capacity to already highly competitive domestic markets in Australia and Thailand. The travelling public would be the main winners from further downward pressure on fares, if Lion Air is successful in launching operations in both countries”, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation spokesman Derek Sadubin said.
Lion Air president Rusdi Kirana reportedly said it was the Australian firm which came to Lion and made a bid after learning of the carrier’s expansion plans.
“The Australian firm and Lion have agreed on a merger with Lion controlling a 49 per cent stake but entitled the majority rights in the management,” he said.
Lion Air was the official airline for Hawkins when she visited Indonesia as Miss Universe in 2004. Its website also reveals it held a mass circumcision for Jakarta kids that same year to celebrate its third birthday.