Lion Air’s Batam Development Boosts Local Maintenance Capacity

 - February 4, 2014, 9:00 AM
Lion Air's rapidly expanding Boeing 737 fleet will undergo heavy maintenance at a new facility on the island of Batam. (Photo: Boeing)

As carriers in emerging markets mature, their fleet support needs account for an ever-increasing part of their operating budgets. Indonesia’s LionAir, for one, has begun the process of investing directly in the upkeep of what it expects eventually to become a 700-strong fleet with a new $250 million heavy maintenance facility at Hang Nadim International Airport on the island of Batam called Batam Aero Technic. Plans call for the facility to open the first of four hangars this month and eventually provide third-party services. Located south of Singapore, the facility’s host airport boasts the longest runway in Indonesia, and the only one on the island of Batam.

To help relieve congestion at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Lion Air has also decided to make Batam its second major hub after Jakarta. The group is increasing its domestic destinations from Batam from 15 to 20. “Batam is ideally located for people wishing to travel between eastern and western Indonesia,” said Lion Group director Rusdi Kirana. “The distance is actually shorter if you transit in Batam rather than flying farther south to Jakarta to transit.”

“We will start doing airframe heavy maintenance from this [first] hangar [this month],” said Batam Aero Technic president director, Romdani Adali Adang. The facility already employs 100 maintenance engineers and technicians. It has built workshops for engines, landing gear, auxiliary power units and components. Schedules call for completion of the second hangar by the end of this month and the other two by the end of June. Each hangar contains three bays, allowing for simultaneous work on three narrowbodies. Batam Aero Technic plans to concentrate on Boeing 737 maintenance initially, then to expand its capabilities to include Airbus A320s. It also plans to perform heavy checks on widebodies as large as the A380.

Even as Indonesia fulfills expectations to become one of the largest and fastest growing aviation markets in the world, it hosts relatively few heavy maintenance facilities. “It costs money to ferry empty aircraft overseas, and doing heavy checks is labor-intensive work,” said Romandi. “It makes more sense for this work to be done in Indonesia,” said Romdani.

Lion Group recently inked a deal for CFM56-5B engines to power 60 Airbus A320s on firm order. Plans call for delivery to Lion Air’s full-service subsidiary Batik Air by mid-year and a total of six by year-end. Lion has not as yet chosen between CFM’s Leap-1A and Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1000 for the 109 A320neos and 65 A321neos it has ordered.