Garuda Indonesia’s CEO Pahala Mansury aims to bring Indonesian hospitality to the world via the national carrier.
Garuda Indonesia, the country’s national airline is arguably the nation’s best – and most favoured — carrier. When arriving at any Indonesian airport, one is immediately greeted by the rows of gleaming aircraft parked around the airport, the brand’s unmistakable livery — the eagle — painted on its side. With connections across Indonesia, across much of Asia, as well as stops in key cities in Europe and Australia, the airline has made great strides in recent years following a major overhaul after the economic downturns of the 2000s.
“We’re looking at the network not just point to point international routes.”
Currently helmed by Pahala Nugraha Mansury the airline, which received the ‘most improved airline’ award in 2010 is set to develop its existing network and increase brand awareness throughout its markets. “We want to bring Indonesian hospitality to the world”, Pahala tells us, noting the airline’s award-winning services for the past several years. The airline’s achievements are indeed no mean feat, especially with regard its incredible customer loyalty and brand establishment. Pahala, who was installed in the position earlier this year following 15 years at Bank Mandiri, is all set to further bolster the network and build on its success.
One of the key routes for this development is to expand capacity building by way of airport infrastructure improvement and optimising aircraft use. “A key component is how to have a lean, efficient and digitised operation”, Pahala says citing inventory management among one of the other factors that will need attention especially as the company intends to match global benchmarks in its domestic and international operations.
At the moment the government is in the process of developing terminals in airports across the country. From new terminals in Jakarta and enhancing the apron at Denpasar airport to enchance capacity there, Pahala is optimistic about the governement’s role in developing the country’s aviation industry as a whole and enhancing Garuda Indonesia’s operations in particular.
While some limitations and challenges remain, he says there is room for improvement. One of the major achievements most recently was the airline’s ability to offer non stop service from Jakarta to London as well as Jakarta to Amsterdam thanks to runway and terminal enhancements that were made recently to accomodate the high-capacity, long-range aircraft being used on these sectors. Furthermore, these routes are believed to help the airline’s long term ambititions to use Jakarta as a hub for connections to Australia. “Connecting London with Australian cities allows us to provide a 22 hour total flight time” , he notes, indicating that passengers could also connect to the airline’s South Korea or China routes from Jakarta as well. With its flights to India, passengers from there can also connect to Garuda’s Australia flights via Jakarta too. “So we’re looking at the network not just point to point international routes.” Pahala says.
Garuda Indonesia is a member of the Sky Team alliance, a consortium of airlines spread around the world where passengers can utilise connections to cities that may not be served by specific airlines of their choice. For example, as Pahala points out, passengers can fly on Garuda’s service to Amsterdam and connect via Sky Team member airlines to other cities around Europe and the rest of the world not served by the airline. Soon, the airline plans to offer a Euro Pass (similar to the train pass currently on offer in Europe) for passengers to connect to up to five cities in Europe from Amsterdam. These initiatives will only further bolster the airline’s presence in certain markets via dedicated passenger use.
With the Asian economies taking centre stage in the global economy, the aviation industry has taken notice and has also made significant gains across the continent. Given Indonesia’s relative proximity to China, Garuda Indonesia has launched services from Jakarta and Denpasar to key Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu. Via its partners China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines, passengers can connect via these major cities to other destinations in China via the network. Which means it’s important for the airline to develop and strengthen its alliance membership so as to provide the best possible connections for its significant customer base.
With its expansive network in Asia, Australia and Europe, Pahala notes that Garuda Indonesia plans to develop its current routes and strengthen passenger numbers both in and out of the country. China is a large market as is Europe. While the trans Pacific connections will continue via the Sky Team alliance for the foreseeable future as the company develops its current markets and fosters growth here.
Pahala notes that the airline industry is a unique one in terms of hospitality because passengers tend to be more demanding of airline services. Demanding the best service both on board and on the ground including with airport services, he notes passenger services’ staff have to be unforgiving in their service standards to ensure top quality delivery each time.
Garuda Indonesia is certainly the pride of the country and with Pahala at the top, it’s clear the brand will be developed further in terms of enhancing networks and other facilities. With the various passenger profiles around the country and the world, the bar has been raised to high standards and with the promises to develop the brand further there is no doubt the flying eagle will carry the pride of Indonesia to many more destinations in years to come.
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