Garuda Indonesia confident on European ban being lifted

Two years ago, Indonesia’s flag carrier Garuda Indonesia and some 40 other Indonesian air carriers were banned to fly to Europe. This likely to chance, as according to ministries in Indonesia and Garuda president Emirsyah Satar, a positive issue is likely to happen before the end of the month.

Recently, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda declared that the European Union would lift its ban for at least four Indonesian carriers following recommendations issued during a meeting of the EU Safety Committee in Belgium on July 2, 2009. Among those carrier are Garuda Indonesia, Mandala Airlines, Prime Air and Air Fast.

The European Union judge that our local airlines have fulfilled 62 out of the 69 requirements to fly to the continent, the Jakarta Post reported, following a minister’s hearing with the House of Representative’s Commission for foreign and defense affairs.

According to Emirsyah Satar, EU authorities are so far satisfied with Garuda improvements over the past year and its safety and maintenance standards. “We are IOSA certified, IATA very strict technical norms,” said Satar.

The Garuda CEO has been waiting impatiently about an EU decision to resume European services after suspending flights between Jakarta and Amsterdam in 2002. The airline would most probably put an Airbus A330 to serve the market. “In the case of putting an Airbus A330 in operation to Amsterdam, we would probably make a stop-over on the way to Europe in Dubai,” said Satar.

If the ban is effectively lifted, Garuda could restart its European operations by March 2010. Garuda has already ordered four Boeing B777-300ERs to serve its long-haul markets, with an option for a total of 10 aircraft. The delivery of the aircraft is due to start in 2011 and could see Indonesia’s flag carrier resuming more flights to Europe, most likely to Frankfurt and/or London.

Garuda did exceptionally well last year. It was the only carrier in Southeast Asia to write off a net profit US$59.7 million in 2008, 11 times higher than in 2007. The airline carried 10.1 million passengers, an increase of 9.8 percent over 2007.

The airline is still in expansion mood. It will open in November flights from Bali to Brisbane and look also at regular services from Bali to Moscow.

It has also reshaped its low cost subsidiary Citilink by moving its base to Surabaya. “We see a huge potential in Surabaya for domestic operations and in a near future to regional destinations,” added Satar.