Garuda Indonesia plans to place an order by year-end for50 turboprop aircraft by year’s endso it can to serve smaller routes, an airline official says.

The airline’s president director, Emirsyah Satar, tells Aviation Week that ATR and Bombardier are competing for the contract and are been makingmaking presentations. to them andThe carrier will decide on a winner in this year’s the fourth quarter, he says.

“We have decided we will go to the turboprops, but we have to compare between the ATR [72] and the Bombardier Q400, and right now the aircraft makers are in the process of submitting and we have a team” doing the evaluation, he said. “There will be a decision toward the end of the year, at least in the fourth quarter.

“We are looking at a total of 50, but it also depends because we are doing this study” into where to deploy the aircraft, Satar says. He says cities where The turboprops will be based includein Medan, Makassar, Bali and Balikpapan. “It’s to serve the airports that have low passenger volumes,” he says.

There are alreadySeveral Indonesian carriers already operate operatingATR aircraft, whereas currently but no local carriers operate the Q400. WhenAsked about the pros and cons of this, Satarreplies says: “At the end of the day, we think if we have 50 it’s quite meaningful, because of economies of scale. Just because other airlines in Indonesia are operating ATR doesn’t necessarily mean we will go with ATR.”

He also says:“When we do the bidding, it’s not just the cost of the aircraft. We also look at the cost of the maintenance as well. This will be taken into consideration,” he says.

Garuda’s largest domestic competitor is Lion Air, whose subsidiary, Wings Air, operates ATR 72s to smaller towns and cities. Wings Air feeds this traffic into Lion’s main hubs, effectively providing feeder traffic to Lion’s mainline. Garuda presentlycurrently has no feeder services because the smallest aircraft it operates is the Boeing 737. However, it does have six Bombardier CRJ1000s on order and also signed a contract to lease 12 more for 12 more on leasefrom Nordic Aviation Capital. Garuda’s first CRJ1000 is to be delivered in October and will be based in Makassar, a hub in eastern Indonesia.

Garuda’s move into turboprop operations has implications for the country’s other national carrier, Merpati Nusantara, which the government called on a few years ago to serve smaller towns and cities with turboprops. In recent weeks, Merpati’s president director, Rudy Setyopurnomo, has said publicly that been saying publiclyhe would like Merpati to partner with Garuda and be Garuda’s turboprop feeder airline.

But Satar has dismissed this idea, saying Garuda is unable to partner with Merpati because Merpati has failed to qualify for the International Air Transport Association’s Operational Safety Audit (IOSA).

Merpati has a poor safety record.Last December, one of Merpati’s Indonesian Aerospace C-212s skidded off an airport runway in eastern Indonesia, injuring two on board. May last year In May 2011, one of the airline’s Xian Aircraft MA60s crashed in eastern Indonesia, killing all 25 on board. Its turboprop fleet consists mostly of MA60s, a type that has no FAA or European Aviation Safety Agency type certification.