TransNusa to Begin Comac Shuttle Flights

It looks like Indonesia’s TranNusa Airlines will soon be introducing some very interesting flights…

Transnusa COMAC ARJ21-700 (Photo: Yao Tianqi via Nikkei)

As DetikTravel reports, TransNusa will soon be commencing inter-city shuttle flights from Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. While it is not yet clear when these flights will be launched, TransNusa will operate these flights from the smaller Halim Perdanakusuma Airport (HLP) to several yet-unnamed destinations. These inter-city flights will operate on a frequent basis, and passengers will be able to fly without the need to pre-book a ticket. Perhaps most interestingly, the airline intends to use its upcoming fleet of Comac ARJ21-700s for these frequent shuttles.

The Comac ARJ21

For those who don’t know, the ARJ21 ‘Xiangfeng’ is China’s first commercial production jetliner, manufactured by the state-owned, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC). The first jet was delivered back in 2016 to Chengdu Airlines, and according to, at least 109 units have been delivered. Up to recently, all of its operators had been Chinese carriers like Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern, among others. This changed in December 2022, when TransNusa took delivery of its first jet and became the Chinese manufacturer’s first foreign operator.

TransNusa ARJ21-700 at Denpasar Airport

Back in January 2021, the airline announced an order for 30 COMAC ARJ21-700s, with options for 30 more. While this might seem random, it makes more sense once we trace that 49% of the airline is owned by the Hong Kong-based China Aircraft Leasing Corporation (CALC). As such, I would imagine there is some sort of interest, possibly political, behind this order. After all, having a foreign customer makes it easier to legitimise Comac’s position in the aircraft manufacturing industry.

Has TransNusa had a change of heart?

When the airline announced its order for the jets, the plan was to revive their old inter-island services from Kupang Airport (KOE). The announcement of this shuttle flight plan would mark a fundamental change in the company’s profile, as it ultimately moves away from rural flights and instead focuses solely on serving highly populated urban destinations.

For TransNusa to begin Comac shuttle flights, it would be interesting to speculate which city pairs in Indonesia would be able to sustain a shuttle service. One that comes to mind is the Jakarta-Surabaya trunk route, featuring Indonesia’s two largest commercial centres. The route is already very saturated, with certain airlines like Lion Air and Citilink operating up to 10 daily flights.

With up to 95 seats, the ARJ21 is a smaller jet that would be easier to fill; it likely will have shorter turnaround times too, compared to the A320s that TransNusa also operates. But with the frequency of flights they are alluding to, it remains to be seen if they can manage sustainable flight loads. This of course also depends on their planned pricing. Due to its underlying flexibility, it would conceivably be higher than pre-booked fares on other low-cost carriers. However, it should be low enough to convince existing business travellers to choose this service over full-service carriers.

TransNusa A320neo cabin
Cabin on TransNusa’s A320neo

To be frank, I’d love to try flying on their shiny new Comac Jet. Although it remains to be seen how the cabin will be configured, I’ve had enough great flights on TransNusa for me to be convinced!

Closing thoughts.

TransNusa will begin shuttle flights from Jakarta with their new Comac ARJ21 jets. While no definite timeline has been announced, this might very well happen really soon. On recent days, we’ve seen the airline’s sole ARJ21 making what are likely test flights. Between the timing of the announcement and these testing flights, this might indicate the soonness of the launch. After all, the airline has announced previously that it hopes to start ARJ operations in March.

As an aviation enthusiast, I’d book (or queue for) a flight in a heartbeat. If this happens, perhaps a review awaits?

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