“Quantum Leap” planned for post-EU ban Garuda


Indonesian national airline Garuda announced plans on Thursday for an aggressive expansion after it was removed from a European Union aviation safety blacklist.

The expansion, labelled “Quantum Leap,” will within five years see the airline nearly double its number of aircraft and increase by half its destinations, chief executive officer Emirsyah Satar said.

“Garuda Indonesia’s fleet, which now consists of 62 aircraft, will grow to 116 aircraft by 2014,” he said.

He said the airline was adding Boeing 777s, 737s and Airbus A330-200s, having already taken delivery of three new aircraft.

It plans to boost passenger numbers to 27.6 million a year in the same period, up from 10.1 million currently, by increasing its domestic and international destinations from 41 to 62, he said.

“Although the external situation is less supportive because of the global financial crisis and increasing competition, Garuda will continue its development programmes prudently.”

“We target to increase our net profit from 669 billion rupiah (66.2 million dollars) in 2008 to 3.7 trillion in 2014,” Satar said.

Satar did not specify the planned new destinations. The company earlier said it planned to reopen its flights to the Netherlands next year, as well as possible later routes to Frankfurt and London.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that Garuda was “on track” in its effort to improve its fleet, service, security and safety.

“The flight ban for Indonesian airlines to fly to Europe has been lifted,” he said.

“I thank everyone who has fulfilled all the necessary steps so they can see that our system, operation and regulation are better, more credible and in line with international standards.”

Garuda was one of four Indonesian airlines to have EU flight bans lifted earlier this month by the EU Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, citing “significant improvements” in safety.

All Indonesia-registered aircraft were banned from flying to the EU in June 2007 after a string of deadly crashes, including the March 2007 crash-landing of a Garuda Boeing 737 that killed 21 people.

Despite its poor safety record and the global economic downturn which has savaged the airline industry, Garuda posted a 10-fold increase in profits last year thanks to increased revenue and passenger numbers.

The company’s net profit for 2008 surged to about 670 billion rupiah from 60 billion rupiah the year before.