State-owned operator Angkasa Pura I, through its logistics subsidiary Angkasa Pura Logistics (APL), has launched an air freight service amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted the cargo business for commercial airlines.
APL, which officiated the launch with an inaugural flight on Thursday, boasts logistics services that reach areas that are difficult for commercial planes to access due to short runways, according to APL president director Danny Thaharsyah.
“We aim to harness Indonesian air freight business potential, which can grow exponentially. We are also striving to reach regions that are still untouched by other cargo airliners,” Danny said during a press briefing on Thursday.
For its operation, the company will provide air freight services to nine cities across Indonesia, including Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan, Denpasar in Bali, Makassar in South Sulawesi, Ambon in Maluku and Batam in Riau Islands. It will also serve an international freight service to neighboring Singapore.
Air transportation in Indonesia is critical to connecting thousands of islands throughout the archipelago. Many commercial airlines, which have been severely hit by the pandemic, utilize the belly of their aircraft to transport cargo during passenger flights.
Danny said that APL would focus on the delivery of marine and perishable goods, which required quick shipping times to ensure freshness.
“Besides general cargo, marine goods also have huge potential for our freight service because Indonesia exports a high number of marine products. They also need to be shipped quickly to ensure the product’s quality, something that belly freight services cannot offer,” he said.
APL currently operates a Boeing 737 that was leased from Malindo Air in April and an ATR freighter leased from Pelita Air Services. Plans are in place for a third airplane, which will also be leased from Pelita Air, to start operating in July.
According to a report released last year by consulting firm Mordor Intelligence, the Indonesian air freight business will be worth an estimated US$19.3 billion by 2024, a 110 percent growth from 2018.
Domestic routes are also predicted to dominate the market with 52 percent of all air freight services.
AP I president director Faik Fahmi said APL decided to tap into the air freight business to support the country’s logistics chain.
“Air freight in Indonesia is currently still hugely dependent on the belly load of passenger aircraft, which consequently faces disruption when most airplanes are grounded,” he said.
The country’s domestic and international air freight volume dropped 39 percent from the average rate in March due to aircraft grounding, Indonesian National Air Carrier Association (INACA) data show.
The association recorded a domestic freight volume of 13,558 cargo ton kilometers (CTK) and an international freight volume of 111,464 CTK in March.
The figures are steep declines from the monthly averages of 45,193 CTK and 159,234 CTK for domestic and international freight throughout 2019, respectively.
This week, national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, through its logistics subsidiary PT Aerojasa Cargo, launched an app-based courier service to develop its cargo business amid weakened passenger demand.