Garuda Indonesia increases flights, fleet; may buy rival

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Indonesian state-owned flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has been expanding, with the airline set to add nine new jets to its fleet and double its flights between Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Garuda is also considering a bid for defunct rival Linus Airways.

Garuda is expecting the imminent arrival of four new Airbus jets and five new Boeings. The Airbuses, A330-200s, are earmarked to fly international routes to Seoul and Shanghai starting in July. All four have Internet and telephone access for passengers. The Boeings, B737-800 Next Generation aircraft, are due to be in service by the 2010.

Logo of Garuda Indonesia

Also planned before the year's end is the increase in flights on the Jakarta-Kuala Lumpur route from one to two per week. "We saw our current load factor[s] have reached 75 percent and even more during school breaks like June and July," Said the company's Vice President for Network Oversight, Risnandi. "This is very promising."

Garuda is now reported to be considering a bid for Linus, who stopped operating on April 27 and have recently been stripped of the rights to fly their former routes as legally required for airlines that do not operate for more than thrity days. Linus still holds some documents of worth to Garuda for transfer to their subisidiary Citilink.

"I heard that Garuda intends to buy Linus who already hold an aviation business license (SIUP) and an air operators certificate (AOC) for the scheduled air services," said Indonesian Director General of Civil aviation Herry Bakti S. Gumay to reporters for Bisnis Indonesia. He said that his office was in favour of a takeover by Garuda because foreign bids are limited to holding a maximum total of 49% of the shares in Linus.

Linus Airways' President Directer Indra said that "we are flexible to acquisition, depending on the investor. If someone wants to buy 100% of the shares we can release our shares, but if someone wants take only a majority shareholding with us as a partner – we are also open." Indra commented that he has had an informal meeting with Garuda CEO Emirsyah Satar but says that they never discussed acquisition by Garuda and that Linus is already in talks with another 'strategic investor' with a view to resuming operations.

Two airlines, Riau Airlines and Kartika Airlines, have both launched bids for the ten routes formally operated by Linus, which include four from Jakarta and three from Batam.

Garuda Indonesia's Financial Direcotr Eddy Purwanto has anounced that US$650 million worth of loans from Bank Mandiri have been restructured. Garuda, who has apointed Rothschild's as their international financial advisors, will now pay US$450 million by 2015.


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