Garuda Indonesia, the archipelago’s flagship carrier, unveils today at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport concrete evidence of a meticulous major revitalisation programme.
Even the country’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has been dealing with the unexpected terrorist attack to two of Jakarta’s major hotels, came to see the new-look Garuda at ceremonies that kicked off at 10am (local time).
The 60-year-old carrier showed off its new, glass-oriented headquarters and two aircraft, an Airbus A330-200 and Boeing B737-800NG, representing several more that will be arriving by year end until 2014, effectively doubling its present fleet to 116 aircraft.
This morning’s event has been made even more auspicious, following the recent lifting of the European Union ban on Garuda and three other operators prompted by a series of deadly accidents in 2007.
But despite the hiccup, Emirsyah Satar, Garuda president and CEO, emphasised to Business Traveller that the medium-term strategic plan put in place in 2006 – designed to ensure taking the state-owned airline through various stages such as survival, consolidation, improving operations, products and services and growth through IPO and debt restructuring – was generally on track. The global financial recession, however, has rescheduled the IPO to 2010, barring any fresh assault on the world economy.
With the EU now allowing Garuda to enter its air space, the airline is planning to restart services to Amsterdam next year, using the A330-200, with a stopover in Dubai. In 2011, the service will convert to non-stop, using a B777 extended range aircraft. Other European cities being considered include Frankfurt and London and in the US, Los Angeles in the West Coast. But for the record, Garuda officials want it made clear they stopped flying to Europe a few years even before the EU ban “due to commercial reasons”.
With the promise of new aircraft, Garuda management is keen on building up Jakarta as a business hub, “while keeping Denpasar (Bali) as our leisure hub”, said Agus Priyanto, executive vice-president commercial. Their Jakarta services to Sydney, Melbourne and Seoul will start up in quick succession on August 1, 2 and 3 respectively. A Jakarta-Shanghai service commenced on July 2. Manila and Taipei are also very likely to be added to the network.
Garuda’s cabin service has been refreshed as the “Garuda Indonesia Experience”, which according to CEO Satar, encapsulates all that conjures Indonesia from the design and colours on the livery (palm trees, bamboo, rivers) to the music and cuisine associated with the country’s various regions. “Coming into our cabin will be like being welcomed into an Indonesian home. Our hospitality is unique.” New uniforms will be introduced at a later date.
Service on the ground will complement the service in the air. A new executive lounge in Terminal 2 at Soekarno-Hatta Airport will open in October. Online check in (only available for now for domestic flights departing Jakarta) will be rolled out in destinations such as Hongkong and Saigon shortly. Two self check-in kiosks have also been made available for Jakarta customers at the airport.
Check in by mobile phone will also be introduced in the coming months, said Priyanto, Garuda’s commercial chief.
For more details, visit www.garuda-indonesia.com
Margie T Logarta