Garuda doubles HK-Jakarta service

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 June, 2011, 12:00am


Garuda Indonesia doubled the number of flights between Hong Kong and Jakarta yesterday by inaugurating a second daily service between the two cities.

The carrier, which raised around US$510 million in an initial public offering in February, has also recently launched a daily direct flight between Hong Kong and Bali's Denpasar airport.

Riza Perdana Kusuma, Garuda's general manager for Hong Kong and Taiwan, said the second service to Jakarta came after passenger loads on the single daily flight reached up to 80 per cent. He said that when aircraft were 75-80 per cent full 'was the time for us to increase the frequency'.

Kusuma said the additional frequency would offer better connections for people from Hong Kong flying on Garuda's services beyond Jakarta, especially to Australia.

He said the airline's new service to Bali 'is a highly attractive option for Hong Kong travellers, making the paradise island of Bali much more readily accessible'.

The carrier will use a mix of 156-seat Boeing 737-800 and 293-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft on the Jakarta route and Boeing 737-800s on services to Bali.

Kusuma said Garuda was taking a 'quantum leap into the future with the wholesale upgrade of the fleet'. He said the number of aircraft operated by the airline would shortly increase from 85 to 116 aircraft.

Garuda would have a total fleet of 153 aircraft, including Boeing 777-300 Extended Range aircraft, by 2015, according to an expansion plan outlined by Garuda president Emirsyah Satar. These would include aircraft leased from GE Capital Aviation Services and RBS Aviation Capital.

Kusuma added the airline was 'planning significant expansion of its route network' which included plans to fly to London, Frankfurt, Madrid and Los Angeles.

Garuda currently only operates a single European service to Amsterdam which it reinstituted a year ago after mounting financial issues forced the airline to suspend services.

Kusuma outlined these growth ambitions six months after the airline completed a financial restructuring that helped nurse Garuda back to health.

The airline cut its debt from US$868 million in 2005 to US$464 million by November last year through loan repayments, debt buyback and equity conversion.

The carrier was subsequently buoyed by a financing agreement with the European Export Credit Agency and commercial lenders led by Lloyds TSB covering US$277 million of this outstanding amount.

As part of its growth ambitions, Garuda plans to join the SkyTeam Alliance next year.

The alliance already includes China Southern Airlines, Korean Air and Vietnam Airlines as members.