Garuda Indonesia's chief executive Irfan Setiaputra, right, and chief commissioner Triawan Munaf speak in a discussion in Jakarta on Friday. (JG Photo/Diana Mariska)

New Garuda Boss Says He Won't Look Back on Smuggling Scandal


JANUARY 25, 2020

Jakarta. Garuda Indonesia's newly-appointed chief executive Irfan Setiaputra said he wouldn’t waste time looking back on scandals that led to the sacking of his predecessor, saying he rose to the post with the main task of making the company a “national pride”.

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir appointed him to replace I Gusti Ngurah Ashkara, who was sacked last month for smuggling a vintage Harley Davidson motorcycle and two Brompton folding bicycles inside Garuda’s brand new Airbus A330-900 Neo.

“Mr. Erick has asked me to settle all the problems and to continue with the positive things. Another thing he asked for … is to bring Garuda back to become the nation's pride,” Irfan said during a discussion in Jakarta on Friday.

“I was very excited because I have always believed that an SOE is national asset. If managed correctly, SOEs can grow even bigger and contribute more to the national economy. Moreover, I see that Garuda is filled with many top talents,” Irfan said.

Irfan said his leadership would put emphasis on good corporate governance as Garuda had been under public scrutiny due to a string of scandals under the previous management. He said he would create an “integrity pact” between board of directors and employees to prevent abuses by superiors.

On several top executives from the previous management who remain in their posts, Irfan said he had no problem with it.

“I don't choose members of the board of directors -- they are appointed by shareholders and I'm sure they have their considerations,” he said.

Having them in his team would help the management continue with the progress the company has made and maintain good spirit among long-serving employees, he said.

“Let's get past their mistakes. I'm 190 cm tall, and life has taught me that if I keep looking backward, I tend to stumble,” Irfan said jokingly.

Irfan said the Garuda management under his leadership would put safety and good services above anything else. 

“We're not just another commercial airline – we have unique burden, responsibility and expectation. We must represent Indonesia in the best possible way and we will prioritize safety and service. Only after that can we talk about profitability,” Irfan said.