Garuda Indonesia earned a profit last year, after suffering losses in 2014. (Antara Photo/Yusran Uccang)

Garuda Remains Upbeat Despite Haze Disruptions


OCTOBER 07, 2015

Jakarta. The chief of Indonesia’s flag carrier Garuda Indonesia remains optimistic that the airline can earn a profit in the third quarter of 2015, despite its recent spate of flight cancellations due thick haze blanketing Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Garuda booked a net income of $29.3 million in this year's January-June period, on the back of increased sales and lower costs. That was a major improvement compared to the $201.3 million loss it recorded in the same period last year.

Garuda president director Arief Wibowo told journalists at a media visit to BeritaSatu Media Holdings in Jakarta that he felt assured the airline's third quarter financial report will be in the black, but declined to provide details.

Still, he admitted that “July, August, September were very tough” months for Garuda, with a large number of flights disrupted by forest fires and the eruption of Mount Raung in East Java.

The company was forced to to cancel 1,870 flights in the three-month period, while its low-cost carrier unit Citilink cancelled 600 due to thick haze.

Airports at Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, and Jambi and Pekanbaru in Riau were among the worst hit by the haze

Arif pointed out that airports at Palangkaraya (Central Kalimantan), Jambi, and Pekanbaru (Riau)  ̶̶  where Garuda has substantial operations  ̶̶  are among the worst hit by the haze.

“Canceling a flight can result in considerable losses, from catering costs, fees for the cabin crew, burned fuel and wasted flight slots,” said Handayani, Garuda commercial director.

Aviation rivals from neighboring countries such as Malaysia have been better able to cope with the region's haze crisis as their airports are far better equipped compared to their Indonesian counterparts, said Garuda operational director Novianto Herupratomo.

“If only our airports had an instrument landing system, which helps assists landings [in] visibility levels of 800 meters,” he said.