The Indonesia Air Carriers Association forecasts the number of air travelers in Indonesia to grow 13 percent next year amid strong consumer spending.
Tengku Burhanudin, secretary general of the organization known as Inaca, said on Thursday that growth in air travel typically doubles the pace of overall economic growth.
“So if the economy is forecast to grow by 6 percent or 6.5 percent next year, then air travel should grow by 12 percent or 13 percent,’’ Tengku said.
The number of domestic air passengers in Indonesia jumped to 38.3 million in the first nine months of this year, while the number of international air travellers rose 15 percent to 8.1 million. This lifted the total number of air travellers to 46.4 million in the period, Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data shows.
Tengku said up to 60 million trips could be taken next year, and the number will continue to increase. Citing data from government sources, Tengku said a growing Indonesian middle class is poised to take to the air with its newfound disposable income.
“Air travel is now affordable to many Indonesians and demand is high,” Tengku said.
But he acknowledged that air travel was not likely to grow as it did in 2010, an especially big year. The number of air passengers rose 22 percent to 53 million people last year from a year earlier.
Lion Air, which inked a massive $21.7 billion jet deal with Boeing last month, expects to carry 27 million passengers this year, an increase of 30 percent. It forecasts growth of 15 percent a year as the fleet expands, Lion Air president director Rusdi Kirana has said.
The airline, founded in 1999, currently operates 67 aircraft on 226 flights daily to about 35 cities, including services to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang (in Malaysia) and Ho Chi Minh City.
Citilink, the budget arm of state-run Garuda Indonesia, aims to carry 3 million passengers this year, 50 percent more than 2010.
Industry analysts in Jakarta said the increase in air travellers would not only boost economic growth, but would also help narrow distances for business and tourism alike in a nation of more than 17,000 islands.