Jakarta. Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has been forced to lay off pilots as it continues to hemorrhage money from canceled flights, lost sales and service reductions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
A senior official from the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry, Arya Sinulingga, said they support the decision taken by the Garuda management.
"It was a difficult choice to make, but we believe Garuda has carefully thought the consequences for both the business and management," Arya said in a teleconference on Tuesday.
He said the coronavirus pandemic has devastated airlines around the world, with entire fleets grounded and staff laid off en masse.
Since the pandemic began, Garuda has been forced to cut costs and focus on improving its operational efficiency to survive.
SOE Ministry data show that as of May 4, only 70 domestic flights were still operating – a massive drop from 79,000 flights pre-pandemic.
In January–February, a total of 12,703 domestic and international flights were canceled.
Around the world, the number of canceled flights in that period reached 240,000.
Garuda Indonesia President Director Irfan Setiaputra said the layoffs were necessary to balance the airline's finances.
"Garuda Indonesia will not extend the contracts with some of our pilots. We will fulfill all our obligations before we terminate the contracts. This was a tough decision made after careful considerations," Irfan said in a statement.
Correction: The previous version of this article misspelled Garuda Indonesia's president director's name. Jakarta Globe regrets the error.