Garuda to connect new Medan hub with five cities
National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia will open five new domestic routes in the first quarter of 2012, connecting the capital city of North Sumatra, Medan, with other cities across the archipelago, a senior executive said on Sunday.
The airline finance director, Elisa Lumbantoruan, said the newly opened routes were Medan–Bandung, Medan–Pekanbaru, Medan–Surabaya, Medan–Makassar, and Medan–Denpasar.
“We will open the new routes linking Medan to other big cities in the country because we see a strong flight demand to and from Medan,” Elisa told The Jakarta Post.
He said that the higher demand was because North Sumatra had become an emerging tourism site after cultural and heritage festivals such as the Lake Toba Festival and Samosir Festival had been held annually for the past several years.
Medan is also one of the country’s most vibrant business centers in Indonesia. Passengers from Makassar or Denpasar used to transit in Jakarta before they continued their trip to Medan, he said.
“As a start, Garuda will fly once a day for the new routes, but gradually we will add the flights in near future,” he said.
He said that the airline would use the Boeing 737-800 Next Generation aircraft for the five new routes.
In addition, the opening of new routes was in line with Garuda’s plan to create Medan as a hub for Sumatra and the surrounding regions.
“We will open the hub immediately, during the first quarter,” he added.
Developing Medan as a new hub was a significant step forward in the airline’s network expansion strategy.
He said that by developing Medan as its western hub, the airline hoped to increase passenger travel as well as stimulate the local economy, which in turn would have a positive impact on people’s welfare, he said.
The airline currently has three hubs: Jakarta, Denpasar and Makassar, which was officially launched in June, 2011.
“We are going to officially introduce Medan as the fourth hub very soon,” he said.
In addition, Garuda expanded the business through Medan as the construction of Kuala Namu International Airport in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, would be completed this year.
The 90,000-square meter airport would be able to park 33 passenger airlines and three cargo airlines.
The publicly listed airline also expects to have at least 20 new planes in operation this year in order to boost the total number of passengers to 20 million.
The new planes would comprise five units of sub-100 seater jets, four units of the Boeing 737-800 NG and 11 units of the Airbus 330-200.
Garuda currently has 88 airplanes and has flown 17 million passengers as of the end of 2011.
Additionally, Garuda will open three new international routes this year: Jakarta—Taipei, Denpasar—Tokyo through Haneda Airport, and Denpasar—New Delhi.
The national flag carrier currently offers a service to Tokyo through Narita Airport.
The route to Tokyo will begin in April, while the routes to Taipei and New Delhi will start in May and in the third quarter of 2012, respectively. (nfo)