Garuda Indonesia Notches Up Global Award
It has taken seven years of meticulous planning, discipline and impeccable execution, but state carrier Garuda Indonesia is finally reaping the rewards.
The airline was voted the best global airline for economy class as well as having the world’s best economy seats at this year’s Skytrax World Airline Awards.
In doing so, Garuda beat global players such as Singapore Airlines and Asiana Airlines for achieving higher standards in its economy class.
The carrier, which has made giant strides in improving service and safety standards, also moved from number 11 to eight among the top airlines in the world.
Speaking to the Jakarta Globe from Paris, Garuda’s president director, Emirsyah Satar, said the awards were the “culmination of our efforts over the past seven years.
“We must bear in mind that the awards are a result of team effort and commitment to our plan.”
Since taking over the helm in 2005, Satar has turned around the once struggling national carrier and transformed it into a global player.
The airline was publicly listed last year and is enjoying strong growth after returning to the black in 2007.
The carrier booked a net income of $145.4 million on the back of $3.47 billion in revenue last year.
According to Satar, the carrier’s bottom line grew by 80 percent last year and is on track to grow robustly this year.
“When we launched our Quantum Leap program, we knew that we would not achieve overnight success,” he said.
“So we did everything in stages and we were very disciplined in executing it.”
That program involved not just achieving financial growth but changing the corporate culture of the airline and instituting global best practices.
The 53-year-old former banker also embarked on an aggressive expansion program, opening new routes and purchasing new aircraft.
Earlier this month, the carrier said it intended to raise Rp 2 trillion ($202 million) from selling five-year bonds with 80 percent of the profits going toward buying new aircraft.
Garuda has received six new aircraft this year and expects to get 24 more planes this year.
Over the past two years, Garuda has added direct flights to Melbourne, Sydney and Shanghai, and plans to fly direct to the United Kingdom in the near future.
To better improve its service standards, Satar said that by the end of the month, Garuda would migrate to the Amadeus booking system, one of the leading next-generation online booking systems.
“We will have a known global technology for bookings and running our frequent flyer program and it will be a significant step in terms of providing better service.”
Having come so far in such a short time, Satar is now shooting for his next target, which is to join the ranks of five-star airlines as ranked by Skytrax.
Currently only seven airlines have the prestigious five-star rating, with Garuda ranked in the four-star category.
“We are proud to be recognized by our passengers and the airline industry for our efforts, but we want to make sure that we are sustainable for many years to come,” Satar said.
Middle-Eastern and Asian carriers dominated the top spots in this year’s Skytrax rankings, with no airlines from the United States or Europe making it into the top 10.
Emirates was named best airline in the world in 2013, while Qatar Airways dropped to second place and Singapore Airlines remained in third place. (Jakarta Globe)
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