Irfan Setiaputra, the CEO of Indonesia’s National Airline, Garuda Indonesia, says that the Government’s financial assistance is not sufficient to save the Airline during the continuing global pandemic.
In Setiaputra’s view, only passengers traveling in large numbers can guarantee Garuda’s future.
Quoted by Kompas.com, Setiaputra said the Government’s financial assistance would not be enough to resurrect the National Flag Carrier. He said the Rp. 8.5 trillion in bailout funds are only a short-term solution. Adding: “I have always said that the only thing that can save Garuda and help it recover quickly is passengers. When the Government provides funds, that represents only temporary relief.”
Irfan Setiaputa’s comments were made during an online discussion held on Friday, 24 July 2020.
To restore passenger levels as quickly as possible, Garuda Indonesia has launched a campaign of “Fly Safely and Comfortably with Garuda.”
Irfan emphasized that Garuda’s operational policy is to prioritize passenger safety through the introduction of health protocols. One of the protocols ensures every passenger is seated at a suitable distance from other passengers. This is achieved by providing an empty seat between each air passenger.
“Garuda is very determined to make sure that the middle seats are empty in economy class, creating a physical distance between all passengers. We don’t want the public to view physical distancing on an aircraft as a threat to their safety. While many articles say physical distancing on airplanes is unnecessary, Garuda wants to follow the desires of the public by providing physical space between all passengers,” said Setiaputra.
The empty “middle seat” on Garuda flights can be filled in specific situations. For instance, a family group of three people flying together need not be split up.
Irfan also highlighted the steps taken by Garuda to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on all its flights. Using a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) System, any viruses present in the passenger cabin are automatically filtered out.
The Garuda CEO also spoke of the new flexibility in bookings now extended to every passenger. In the current pandemic, flight schedules are subject to change and disruptions. Garuda is now allowing last-minute adjustments in flight schedules without any additional charge to the passenger.