Major Indonesian airlines are reducing capacities over the low season which is starting now, according to Indonesian experts in air transport. National carrier Garuda Indonesia CEO Arif Wibowo confirmed in a conversation with the Jakarta Post that the airline had adjusted its aircraft capacity for routes connecting major cities, such as Surabaya in East Java and Medan in North Sumatra. “We use the wide-body aircraft for those routes. But the total number of flights are decreasing in number,” Arif said to the newspaper on Tuesday.
For over a year now, airlines have seen a decrease in demand from passengers and react now by adjusting their schedule, often last minute. Citilink, the low cost arm of Garuda, cancelled early this week a couple of flights out of Batam in Sumatra while Lion Air also reported to have cut flights earlier this week, citing a worsening situation in terms of bookings.However, Lion Air general load factor remains around 80%.
“We are really seeing the impact of this year’s low season,” Citilink commercial director Hans Nugroho indicated to the Jakarta Post. The director points to a decrease of load factors, from over 80% a few months ago to 78% in February. Citilink is meanwhile adding 8 new Airbus A320 this year , growing its fleet from 41 to 49 aircraft. The airline adjusted to low season by moving passengers to other flight slots.
Airlines are suffering from Indonesia’s economic slowdown, a decreasing rupiah value and the recent decision of the government to cut the airfare ceiling price in economy class by 5% following the drop in fuel prices. Only Indonesia AirAsia indicates to have not cut any of its frequencies as it enjoys a load factor of over 80%. However, the low cost airline remains a relatively small player in the domestic market.