Fri, 23 Feb 2001

Cathay to serve more flights to Indonesia

JAKARTA (JP): Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific Airways will gradually increase its weekly flight frequencies to Indonesia to 28 flights beginning next week from 19 flights at present to meet rising demand, a senior executive said.

Cathay Pacific country manager for Indonesia James Ginns said on Thursday that nine new flights were added to Indonesian destinations as the company saw a 30 percent growth in passenger revenue last year.

"A 30 percent growth is very impressive, and last year we found that our flights couldn't meet the high demand," he told a press briefing.

Ginns said that the forthcoming schedule of 28 flights exceeded the level of 24 flights a week before the economic crisis started to hit the country in September, 1997.

The Hong Kong-Jakarta afternoon route will be increased to a daily nonstop flight, from only three times a week previously.

"In addition to that we also have our daily morning flights to Hong Kong via Singapore," Cathay's assistant manager for marketing and passenger sales Ida Sylviana Bekti said.

Hong Kong-Surabaya nonstop flights will occur three times a week instead of the previous two times a week, and the Hong Kong- Denpasar nonstop route will be flown eleven times a week from the previous seven times.

Ida said the load factor for all of last year averaged 75 percent for all destinations in Indonesia, he said, adding that this was an ideal percentage for an airline service to have.

"75 percent is a comfortable load factor, more than 80 percent would mean that we were losing bookings," Ginns said, explaining that more than 80 percent would mean that the airline had to reject some of its potential passengers.

He said that he expects the load factor to stay at an average of 75 percent this year, despite the slight drop in the first two months of 2001 due to the aftermath of the double peak season last year.

"This is just a momentary phenomena, and I'm optimistic that passenger levels will pick up again for the rest of the year," Ginns said.

Before the country's economic crisis, the airline had an average load factor of 80 percent, which dropped to between 55 percent and 60 percent during the Asian economic crisis, he said.

Ginns said that the market was still highly inbound, with only a small outbound market from Bali.

"A large segment of passengers to Surabaya are businesspeople, many ethnic Chinese use the routes for family reunions, while Denpasar is largely a tourist market," he said, adding that Jakarta was similar to Surabaya with a small leisure market for outbound travelers and not much inbound.

Surabaya operations contributes 20 percent to Indonesian passenger revenue, Ginns said.

He said that although its Indonesian operations were improving, Cathay Pacific had no short-term plan to expand its services to include other destinations around the country.

"We would rather increase flight frequency to existing points in Indonesia.. but we are always open to the possibility of adding more destinations," Ginns said, explaining that the airline was aware of the great potential of other parts of Indonesia as a tourist destination.

Cathay Pacific began flying to Indonesia in 1961 initially with Jakarta as the sole destination, followed by Denpasar in 1972, and Surabaya in 1995.

The airline operates 68 aircraft including Boeing 747-400, Boeing 777-300 and 200, Airbus A340-300, and Airbus A330-300.

It will deploy 10 new aircraft this year, including the Airbus A330-300, and two Boeing 747-400 freighters. (tnt)