TransNusa has put both of its ARJ21 aircraft into international route operations, achieving a daily utilization rate of over 7 hours on the first day.
At 07:41 local time, the ARJ21, registration PK-TJA, took off from Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK), operating flight 8B671 to Kuala Lumpur. After a 1 hour and 48-minute flight, it landed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) at 10:49 local time and departed back to Jakarta at 11:38.
Just one minute after PK-TJA departed from Kuala Lumpur, TransNusa’s second ARJ21 aircraft (registration PK-TJB), which was received from COMAC a month ago, took off from CGK at 11:39 and was headed to Kuala Lumpur. After a 1 hour and 49-minute flight, it landed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 14:28.
Both PK-TJA and PK-TJB completed their round-trip flights between Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur on the same day as they began their international operations. Consequently, on the 24th, both PK-TJA and PK-TJB completed four commercial flights, with flight times of 7 hours and 38 minutes for PK-TJA and 7 hours and 23 minutes for PK-TJB.
TransNusa replaced its Airbus A320 with ARJ21 to operate international flights
TransNusa Airlines opened its first international route on April 14th, operating flights between Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Over the past three months, TransNusa Airlines has been using its Airbus A320 aircraft to fly this route.
Last week, TransNusa’s CEO, Datuk Bernard Francis, announced that the airline would replace the A320 aircraft with two ARJ21 planes for the route. Additionally, the flight frequency will be increased from two flights per day to four flights per day. Francis said in a media briefing,
“We’re going to dedicate the (COMAC) ARJ21 aircraft specifically on the Jakarta-Kuala Lumpur route. We’ll still have about a 12 percent increase in capacity from two A320 to (COMAC) ARJ21. We find that frequency works better than capacity. That’s why I would like to try using lesser capacity aircraft more frequently to make this route more vibrant and exciting,”
Earlier, both of TransNusa’s ARJ21 aircraft were operating on the route between Jakarta and Denpasar, Bali.
Ticket available and Competitive price
On TransNusa’s official website, you can now buy flight tickets for the ARJ21 flights between Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur starting today (July 25th). The one-way ticket price is 999,000 Indonesian Rupiahs ($67). This price is about 70% of the ticket price for the same time and route on AirAsia, which is approximately $101.
The challenges of ARJ21
Since its commercial operation began in 2016, the daily utilization rate of ARJ21 has been a topic of criticism. According to publicly available data in March 2023, the average daily utilization of ARJ21 regional aircraft in China was 2.5 hours per day. This data is based on the delivery of 100 ARJ21 aircraft within China (100 domestic delivery and 1 overseas delivery by the end of March).
COMAC has also been hoping that airlines can increase the daily utilization of ARJ21 aircraft, which, on the one hand, helps with product optimization and, more importantly, could prove its operational cost-effectiveness.
Over the long term, various Chinese domestic airlines have lacked the motivation to deploy ARJ21 aircraft, intended for regional operations, into their valuable routes due to factors such as a lack of crew resources, sufficient aircraft numbers, and tight route and schedule resources.
Based on the data, in March 2023, the most frequently operated ARJ21 route was between Shanghai Pudong Airport and Jieyang Chaoshan Airport, with a total of 232 flights, including 208 operated by China Eastern Airlines and 24 operated by China Southern Airlines.
Currently, the coveted 8-hour fleet daily utilization rate, which COMAC has been dreaming of, has been achieved by an overseas customer ahead of others. If the operational performance is excellent, it will be the best advertisement for COMAC’s ARJ21 aircraft to expand its international market. However, on the other hand, it can be a double-edged sword. Operating such a high-profile route between two capitals means that any accident could have a significant impact on the aircraft model and the company.