Focus on China for Garuda Indonesia
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.
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.”
Last month Garuda Indonesia began offering first-class service to the Chinese mainland market.