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Jakarta Post

COVID-19 has not stopped Garuda from flying, says chief

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, October 7, 2020   /   11:33 am
COVID-19 has not stopped Garuda from flying, says chief Garuda Maintenance Facility (GMF) Aero Asia technicians check the condition of a Garuda Indonesia Airbus A330-300 at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)

The airline industry has been suffering significantly during the pandemic as a result of travel bans, restrictions and virus fears.

Garuda Indonesia, for instance, saw its passenger numbers fall to single digits in May. 

But the national flag carrier has not stopped flying during the pandemic. 

“We’re proud to say that Garuda Indonesia is one of a few airlines that has continued to operate during the pandemic,” said Garuda Indonesia president director Irfan Setiaputra during a virtual event on Tuesday, as quoted by tempo.co

He said the airline was still serving several domestic routes but that some flights to less popular destinations had been temporarily suspended. 

The same applies to international routes. Although Garuda Indonesia has stopped flights to China and Saudi Arabia, it still provides flights to countries such as the Netherlands, Japan, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia at least once a week. 

Read also: Garuda paints masks on aircraft to support health campaign

Instead of ceasing its operations, Garuda Indonesia has reviewed its routes and reduced the frequency of flights. 

Irfan said one flight to the Netherlands now departed per week, down from the previous six flights a week.

He added that the flights to the Netherlands were always full. “We continuously monitor [the performance of each route].”

The country’s airlines were facing tough times, Irfan said, because they had missed out on peak travel periods such as between Ramadan and the season of the haj. 

Travel restrictions contributed to the decline of passengers. 

“Indonesia is among the countries that prohibit foreigners from entering, except under certain conditions. Some countries also require international travelers to spend 14 days in quarantine,” said Irfan.

Read also: Domestic market to be driver of recovery, Garuda chief says

He added that Garuda Indonesia’s international flights were carrying passengers for repatriation only. 

Irfan said the company had decided to keep operating because Garuda Indonesia was established not simply for profit but to connect regions and nations. 

In a research note published in September, Lee Young Jun from Mirae Asset Sekuritas said the airline’s monthly seat load factor (SLF) would not likely exceed 50 percent this year and that the SLF stood at 30 percent in July. 

“Although the management has claimed that the improvement should continue until the end of 2020, we believe that the monthly SLF will not exceed 50 percent, given the fact that new COVID-19 cases are continuously hitting new records,” the research note reads. 

Mirae Asset Sekuritas expected Garuda to book $1.63 billion in revenue by the end of 2020, a sharp drop from its revenue of $4.5 billion last year. (jes)

 

Editor’s note: The following is part a campaign by the government’s COVID-19 task force to raise public awareness about the pandemic.