Mumbai seems to have caught the eye of the Garuda. After commencing flights between Mumbai and Jakarta with a pit stop in Bangkok, the airline now wants a direct non-stop to cut down the turnaround time, reveals M. Arif Wibowo, President and CEO, Garuda Indonesia.
HAZEL JAIN FROM INDONESIA
Q) Why did you choose Mumbai for your debut into India?
India has been a part of our milestone for expansion of our global network. One thing that we had to consider is that not only the China market, but even the India market has a lot of potential for us and needs to be explored. We considered Mumbai because of the traffic potential it offers. The market size from India to Indonesia is more than 3,00,000 travellers and around a third of this comes from Mumbai. This gets divided into two destinations – Bali which gets around 45 per cent of this traffic and Jakarta which gets the rest. The reverse traffic is also good. Indonesia is currently one of the largest markets to India with 350,000 people currently travelling to the region on both business and leisure.
Q) How do you plan to expand your operations in India?
We have started with the Jakarta flight for which we considered Bangkok as the transit point. But in the future we will consider having a direct flight depending upon the market response. We may soon replace the one-stop service to a non-stop direct flight from Jakarta to Mumbai or even consider a Bali-Mumbai direct flight. The opening of our flight to Mumbai is part of our international network development program, especially in the South Asia region, as well as our strong commitment to support the Indonesian government’s aim to double the number of international tourists visiting the country by 2019. We will first study the demand for the first three months and if we see growth, we may also plan to increase the frequency.
Q) What about other cities in India?
Apart from Mumbai, we also see potential in New Delhi and Chennai markets. But first, we want to concentrate on Mumbai. If we see growth during the first three months we will increase the capacity also and after a year we will consider other cities from the India market.
Q) What is the kind of market share that Garuda enjoys in India?
The current market share of Garuda Indonesia is only 27 per cent and we aim to take this to at least 40 per cent if not more. So by 2019, we expect Garuda to help our government reach the 20 million tourist mark it has set for itself. We will be offering the best fares to travel agents from India.
Q)Will the agents get to experience the airline?
Yes, we plan to host travel agents on familiarisation trips so that they have a better understanding of our country and be able to sell not only the destination but also the airline better. In fact, we recently hosted 18 travel agencies in partnership with a major DMC in Indonesia called Diorama Travel Management on our inaugural flight from Mumbai to showcase the destination as well as our convenient domestic connections. One agency was from Ahmedabad, two from Pune and the rest were from Mumbai. This included top operators like Thomas Cook, SOTC, VeenaWorld and Akbar Holidays. So within Indonesia, we flew them from Jakarta-Bali, Bali-Jogjakarta, and finally Jogjakarta-Jakarta for their return flight to Mumbai. Our government has put a priority to enable tourists to explore our top 10 destinations and Garuda is connected to eight of these 10 destinations from either Jakarta or Bali.
Q) What kind of growth are you expecting from India in 2017?
We expect a growth of 7-8 per cent from the India market in 2017 because of the growing economic trade relations between the two countries. We expect about 75 to 80 per cent load factor on our flights to India. Our inaugural flight from Mumbai to Jakarta recorded 90 per cent seat load factor, which is very promising for us.