Citilink turboprop decision likely in December

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Indonesian low-cost carrier Citilink could announce its selection of a turboprop type in December, as it awaits final bids from ATR and Bombardier.

The two aircraft that Garuda's subsidiary is considering for a 50-aircraft requirement are the ATR 72-600, configured for 72 seats, and the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, configured for 78.

"The procurement team is still making a complete evaluation," says Citilink chief executive Arif Wibowo. "In the middle of November, their recommendation will go to the board, and we'll finalise our decision at the end of the month."

The turboprops will be used to operate flights from bases in Batam, Lombok and Makassar on low density, high yield routes, serving up to 48 airports with runways of 800-1,400m (2,600-4,600ft) in length.

The company will operate at least five turboprops at each base.

"One aircraft can generate six to seven frequencies a day," says Wibowo. "With five aircraft you have 30 frequencies a day. This means one route can have three daily frequencies per route."

With regard to other plans, Wibowo says Citilink will add some Southeast Asian routes in 2013, including Singapore and selected cities in Malaysia that are close to Indonesian territory, possibly Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

In 2014, Citilink could begin serving Bangkok. It could also launch services on the high density Bali-Perth route. "We have to protect Garuda from the very challenging position of Jetstar Airways in the Australian market," says Wibowo.

The carrier is also considering launching a service on the Bali-Darwin route in 2014.

Wibowo adds that the company could conduct an initial public offering in 2015 to fund aircraft purchases, with the advent of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) open skies in 2015.

"In 2015, we really want to be very strong in the market place to protect Garuda by adding market share in the region," says Wibowo.

By the end of 2012, Citilink will operate 21 aircraft: six Boeing 737-300s, one 737-400, and 14 Airbus A320-200s.