Saturday, February 5, 2011

Garuda looking at possible OOL flights

Article below advises Garuda looking at Gold Coast flights this year.

INDONESIA'S national carrier, Garuda, will join other airlines in ramping up flights to Australia during the next six months.

Virgin Blue's subsidiary, Pacific Blue, and Qantas and its offshoot, Jetstar, have increased capacity to Indonesia to cater for stronger holiday demand and Strategic Airlines, based in Brisbane, has boosted flights to Bali.

Garuda will increase flights between Melbourne and Jakarta by the middle of the year and is considering starting services to the Gold Coast. Some of the A330s the full-service airline will take delivery of this year will fly to Australia.
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The chief executive, Emirsyah Satar, said he was more focused on increasing capacity between Australia and Indonesia than opening new routes but was interested in starting services to the Gold Coast.

The Indonesian route has become increasingly dominated by low-cost airlines such as Jetstar and Pacific Blue but Mr Satar said he believed the market was big enough to offer growth for full-service carriers. Garuda forecasts annual passenger growth for the Australia-Indonesia market of 5 to 8 per cent.

Garuda flights between Melbourne and Jakarta will increase from three to seven a week. It also has daily services between Bali and Melbourne, daily flights from Sydney to Jakarta and Bali and three flights a day between Perth and Bali.

Although routes to Indonesia have historically been dominated by leisure travellers, Mr Satar said the airline had noticed a rise in business traffic to Jakarta in recent years.

Mr Satar, who was appointed in 2005 to turn around the trouble-prone airline, said the strength of the Australian dollar had partly increased demand but he believed Indonesia had become a more attractive destination for Australians.

Last month the airline raised 4.8 trillion rupiah ($527 million) to help pay for new aircraft. It plans to increase its fleet from 87 to 153.

Mr Satar said Garuda faced challenges in convincing Australians to fly with his airline because of its poor safety record. ''[But] more and more the market is seeing that Garuda has improved,'' he said.

Garuda resumed flights to Europe in June after the European Union relaxed a ban on Indonesian airlines imposed six years ago after a series of fatal crashes. In 2007 a Garuda passenger jet crashed at Yogyakarta airport, killing 21 people, including five Australians.

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