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Garuda Indonesia
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Garuda Indonesia

by Giuseppe TovarDecember 7, 2013

Garuda Indonesia is the national airline of Indonesia, it was founded in 1948. Its name comes from Garuda, which is a bird in the traditional Hindu mythology. The characters represented in   mythology and the great Indian epics are in fact still very much present in the culture of the people of Java, the most populated of the islands of Indonesia.

After having abandoned its European destinations in 2002, Garuda has resumed its servicing of Amsterdam as of 2010. The international arm of the company therefore now covers Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Europe. Anxious to expand in Asia, it integrated itself into the Skyteam alliance in 2012.  On the Indonesian domestic market, in 2008 it lost the 1st place for to the private company Lion Sensor.

The company carried 20.4 million passengers in 2012, an increase of 19.6 per cent compared to the year preceding it.

On August 1, 1947, the national company Dutch KLM creates a subsidiary for the Dutch Indies, KLM Interinsulair (nl).  The latter inherits what remains of the fleet of KNILM, the colonial era company, as well as about twenty Dakota from the 20th squadron of the KNIL, the colonial army.

An officer of the Indonesian air-force, Wiweko Soepono, convinces the government in 1948 to create an airline. Indonesia, which proclaimed its independence in 1945, is then in the midst of an armed and diplomatic conflict with the Netherlands, which are seeking to recover their colony. The Netherlands submitted Indonesia to a naval and air blockade.

The airline then acquired American Douglas DC-3 “Dakota” mostly with funds raised in the idonesian province of Aceh. The device is sent to India, a country which had recognized the independent Indonesia, for a complete revision. It is christened Seulawah, “goldenmountain” in the Aceh language, as a tribute to those who contributed funds for its purchase. Its first flight took place on January 26, 1949, under the colors of “Indonesian Airways”.  The aircraft then flew to Rangoon in Burma, another country which had recognized Indonesia. In effect, in the absence of being able to operate in Indonesia as a result of the blockade imposed on the young republic by the Dutch, Indonesia accepts that the airplane by chartered by the young Burmese government for military operations.

In 1950, the airline acquires another DC-3, as well as the twin-engined American Convair. In 1960, in addition to the old DC-3, the fleet had 8 Convair 240s and 3 Convair 440s. It adds another Convair 990 in 1965. They take delivery of their first McDonnell Douglas DC-8-55 at the Paris-Le Bourget airport in 1974.

In 1961, the company purchases 3 quad-turboprop Lockheed L-188 Electra, of American manufacture, for its international connections. It was not until 1965 that the airline enters the era of reaction aviation with the acquisition of 3 quadjet Convair 990s, one the fastest commercial airplane’s in the world at that time, but with a small capacity ( only 99 passengers), these aircraft will be resold. In 1969, the airline purchases the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 for major domestic routes. The company provides bi-turboprop Dutch Fokker F27 for small domestic routes. For its international lines, the company begins by renting a McDonnell Douglas DC-8 from the Dutch company KLM and then acquires it.

In 1980, the fleet of the airline consisted of 24 McDonnell Douglas DC-9s and 33 Fokker F28s. The first large aircraft purchased by the company are of the McDonnell Douglas DC-10s in 1976, followed by 6 Boeing 747-200s. In 1983 it take delivery of its first Airbus A300. The company adopted a new logo and new colors in 1985.

The Asian economic crisis severely hit the company, whose traffic dropped by 31 per cent between 1997 (7.3 million passengers) and 1998 (5 million passengers).  Since then, traffic has continually progressed. In 2003, it reached 7.2 million passengers (including 1.7 million on international flights), regaining its level before crisis.

Garuda was banned from flying to the European Union in June of 2007, as well as the other Indonesian carriers. After three inspection missions  by the European Commission, carried out under the responsibility of the European official Federico Grandini, the Commission announced on July 14, 2009 the withdrawal of four Indonesian companies from its black list. Among them is Garuda Indonesia, Airfast, Mandala Airlines and Premiair.

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About The Author
Giuseppe Tovar
1 Comments
  • Erik
    December 7, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    CGK-in 737-800. Garuda Indonesia had excellent quality check in service in Jakarta, dealing with everything, including the immigration formalities, while sitting comfortably. Personally escorted to the temporary room, as its new lounge is being renovated and expanded. Being the only passenger on board class C, I was spoiled by the surcharge and a crew, they refilled my drinks without stopping and lunch was delivered at my preferred time, etc. The experience is slightly marred by the cradle seat, however, still comfortable enough for a medium-haul flight to Perth. Economy fare ticket costs only slightly more than on some other airlines.

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