Garuda to debut in North American market in 2014

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Beijing (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Indonesia's flag carrier Garuda Indonesia plans to open a direct flight from Jakarta to Los Angeles in 2014 by using a Boeing 777 aircraft, president director Emirsyah Satar said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 68th International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual meeting earlier this week, Emirsyah said that North America remained an attractive market, despite the global crisis, because it was the center of business activity and education.

Emirsyah said that Garuda would take the first delivery of the 10 B777-300 ER (Extended Range) aircraft in June 2013 for the Jakarta-Los Angeles service. With a range of up to 14,685 kilometers (nonstop) and a capacity to accommodate 365 passengers, the aircraft was suitable for long-haul routes, he said.

Apart from the US, the airline will use the aircraft for its Middle East and Amsterdam routes, replacing the current B747-400s.

In addition, he said that the company would expand their business to Greater China and New Zealand in another two years.

"We plan to connect Jakarta to Chengdu and China's emerging tourism city Tianjin. We have even managed a collaboration with China's largest online tourism agency C-Trip to penetrate the market," he added.

Since the company first entered the Chinese market in 2002, with flights from Jakarta to Guangzhou, it has expanded services to five flights a week on the Jakarta-Beijing route and seven flights a week on the Jakarta-Guangzhou and Jakarta-Shanghai routes.

Garuda aims to provide a daily Jakarta-Beijing service this year.

"China is a promising market and we have set a target of carrying one million tourists and businesspeople from China in the next few years," he said.

According to the company's data, Garuda Indonesia carried nearly 235,000 passengers on the routes between Indonesia and China last year, a 11.9 per cent increase compared to the 210,000 passengers it carried in 2010.

Moreover, the Jakarta-Auckland route that will open in early 2014 will enable passengers to fly to other destinations in Latin America.

The airline's total passenger numbers reached 17 million in 2011, consisting of 13.9 million passengers on domestic routes and 3.2 million international passengers.

The figure represents a 36 per cent increase from 12.5 million in 2010.

The number of passengers is projected to increase by 29.41 per cent to 22 million passengers this year.

Last year, the company saw a 39.06 per cent increase in revenue to 27.16 trillion rupiah (US$2.96 billion) and its operating income surge to 1.01 trillion rupiah ($7.1 million) after suffering operating losses of 67.16 billion rupiah in 2010.

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