Indonesia’s flag carrier Garuda Indonesia will only maintain five international routes in 2022, CEO Irfan Setiaputra said, as the debt-ridden airline seeks to maximize operational and economic efficiency.
The international routes being kept for 2022 are Jakarta to Hong Kong, Sydney, Tokyo Narita, Seoul, and China, Irfan said yesterday, though he didn’t specify which city for the latter.
Garuda will also retain flights to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia only for Umrah pilgrimage. As it is considered a special route, it does not fall under the airline’s international routes category.
The Umrah route is suspended for the time being, anyway, with Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Ministry still delaying departures for the pilgrimage until next year amid COVID-19 concerns.
In addition, Garuda is also planning to close a number of domestic routes, with one of the routes Irfan mentioned being Bandung-Denpasar.
“Our experience taught us that the most appropriate approach is to operate the aircrafts on profitable routes, while slowly opening other routes and increasing [flight] frequency,” Irfan said.
Irfan’s statement follows the airline’s announcement last month that it is cutting 97 routes, including almost all international routes like Amsterdam and Seoul, in 2022. The airline seems to have changed its mind about Seoul, but it’s clear that Europe is no longer within economical reach.
Currently, Garuda flies direct to only a handful of international routes, including major cities in Australia, China, Saudi Arabia, as well as neighbors Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Bangkok.
The flag carrier last month entered a codeshare deal with Emirates for 18 international destinations, including London, Dubai, and Johannesburg. The deal, which commences on Jan. 2, 2022, would see Emirates passengers transfer to Garuda planes for connecting flights within Indonesia.
Garuda, which is US$9.8 billion in debt, is on the brink of bankruptcy due to years of financial inefficiency, which was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.