Fo­cus on China for Garuda In­done­sia

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHUAN TI zhuanti@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Garuda In­done­sia is plac­ing great im­por­tance on China — one of the most es­sen­tial air trans­port mar­kets in the Asi­aPa­cific re­gion — as it con­tin­ues to im­prove ser­vices for lo­cal cus­tomers.

“As the re­la­tion­ship be­tween In­done­sia and China has re­ally be­come in­creas­ingly close, busi­ness and tourism will un­doubt­edly in­crease be­tween the two coun­tries,” said Emirsyah Satar, pres­i­dent and CEO of Garuda In­done­sia, the first and big­gest air­line in the coun­try.

“Our com­mit­ment to the Chi­nese mar­ket is un­ques­tion­able.”

Satar said the air­line has ex­panded by us­ing its China head­quar­ters in Shang­hai that gov­erns sub­sidiaries in Shang­hai, Bei­jing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Taipei.

Since it en­tered the Chi­nese mar­ket in 2002, the com­pany has had daily flights from Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Guangzhou.

It now has 21 non- stop weekly flights from the Chi­nese main­land to Jakarta, the cap­i­tal city of In­done­sia.

“We have made ef­forts to seek suit­able cities in China for new air des­ti­na­tions,” Satar added.

Garuda plans to open a route from Chengdu in Sichuan prov­ince or Chongqing to Jakarta.

“Dis­cus­sions are un­der way and if things go smoothly, the new route will open in the mid­dle of next year,” said I Wayan Suba­gia, vice- pres­i­dent of Garuda In­done­sia China.

The move is one of the air­line’s mea­sures to ex­pand busi­ness in the Chi­nese mar­ket.

Im­mi­gra­tion ser­vice

In May the air­line in­tro­duced a Shang­hai- Jakarta on­board im­mi­gra­tion ser­vice, which is ex­pected to ex­tend to other China-Jakarta routes in the fu­ture.

With im­mi­gra­tion doc­u­ment clear­ance for all pas­sen­gers dur­ing the flight, trav­el­ers don’t have to queue for a visa on ar­rival and pass im­mi­gra­tion clear­ance, mak­ing it more con­ve­nient for Chi­nese tourists to visit In­done­sia.

“Right now we are in the mid­dle of work­ing to­gether with the In­done­sian govern­ment to train the im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers as we need at least two im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers on­board the air­craft. Hope­fully, we are on tar­get in terms of pro­vid­ing this ser­vice for Bei­jing,” Satar said.

The flag car­rier has long been com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing its home coun­try as a des­ti­na­tion.

In ad­di­tion to well-known Bali Is­land, the air­line has pack­ages fea­tur­ing off- the­beat­en­track is­lands like Lom­bok, Yo­gyakarta and Manado.

With good con­nec­tions to its do­mes­tic net­work, it of­fers more flight choices for Chi­nese cus­tomers to visit tourist at­trac­tions such as Bali, Surabaya, and Lom­bok.

To make pas­sen­gers feel at home, there are at least two Chi­nese at­ten­dants on flights from China to Jakarta.

In­done­sia wel­comed more than 800,000 Chi­nese trav­el­ers last year. The num­ber will be about 1 mil­lion next year, Satar said, adding that “the air­line will in­crease flights to con­trib­ute to the tar­get”.

To reach that goal, the air­line has signed $1.7 bil­lion worth of air­craft leas­ing con­tracts with the ICBC Fi­nan­cial Leas­ing Co to en­large its fleet.

Ac­cord­ing to the con­tracts, Garuda will lease three Boe­ing 777 air­craft, six Boe­ing 737 planes and three Air­bus jet­lin­ers in the next decade.

The air­line added 27 air­planes to its fleet by the third quar­ter of this year to sup­port ex­pan­sion, bring­ing its cur­rent to­tal to 131 air­craft.

First- class ser­vice

Since Nov 7, the air­line has flown Boe­ing 777-300ER from Shang­hai to Jakarta ev­ery day, the air­line’s first-class ser­vice in China.

Pas­sen­gers in the first class en­joy a “chef on board” ser­vice that of­fers a choice of meals or­dered from the menu. The chef then cooks for them at an altitude of more than 35,000 feet.

As the lat­est air­plane type of the air­line, the plane’s ca­pac­ity is 314 pas­sen­gers, in­clud­ing eight seats in first class and 38 in busi­ness class.

It has won the ti­tle of Best Air­craft Type in its class for five con­sec­u­tive years in the Lead­ing Edge Awards by Ex­ec­u­tive Travel, a magazine in the United States.

This year, Garuda will re­ceive 24 new air­craft in­clud­ing four out of a to­tal 10 Boe­ing 777300ER air­craft on or­der.

The plane is equipped with in- flight con­nec­tiv­ity al­low­ing pas­sen­gers to use WiFi and watch live broad­casts from six

Our com­mit­ment to the Chi­nese mar­ket is un­ques­tion­able. We have made ef­forts to seek suit­able cities in China for new air des­ti­na­tions.” EMIRSYAH SATAR PRES­I­DENT AND CEO, GARUDA IN­DONE­SIA

in­ter­na­tional chan­nels in­clud­ing CNN In­ter­na­tional and BBC World.

“Right now we don’t have a Chi­nese chan­nel, but it is not a long way and we will have CCTV in the near fu­ture,” Satar said. “We hope more Chi­nese will try our first class.”

Garuda’s per­for­mance is rec­og­nized as in­ter­na­tional level. Af­ter win­ning the ti­tle of the World’s Best Re­gional Air­line in 2012, it was named the World’s Best Econ­omy Class and World’s Best Econ­omy Class Air­line Seats in June by Sky­trax, a Lon­don- based global air­line rank­ing con­sul­tancy.

In the 2013 Sky­trax sur­vey, Garuda en­tered the top 10 list of the World’s Best Air­lines. In the Asia cat­e­gory, it ranked fifth be­hind Sin­ga­pore Air­lines, All Nip­pon Air­ways, Asiana Air­lines and Cathay Pa­cific.

Be­cause of Garuda’s im­prove­ments in safety stan­dards, it be­came the only air­line in In­done­sia to date to re­ceive the IATA Oper­a­tional Safety Au­dit cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Satar said “the im­pres­sive progress is the re­sult of our Quan­tum Leap pro­gram”.

“We want to make Garuda In­done­sia five-star air­line by Sky­trax stan­dards by 2015.”

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Last month Garuda In­done­sia be­gan of­fer­ing first-class ser­vice to the Chi­nese main­land mar­ket.

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