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Garuda Indonesia targets freighters

By control on May 11, 2012

Garuda Indonesia's ambitions have advanced from a desire to augment passenger revenue with belly-hold freight to a plan for full freighter flights to take off before 2013.

In early April, Garuda CEO Emirsyah Satar announced his decision to boost cargo capacity on passenger aircraft; Satar wanted to take advantage of rising airfreight volumes in various regions of Indonesia and mounting investment in the country. By the end of the month he declared that the airline would get its first freighter aircraft by the end of this year. According to him, Garuda will have one A330-200F in service by next January and two more joining the fleet in 2013.

This is not the first time that the airline is showing freighter ambitions. In 2010, there was talk of converting up to seven of its B737-400s into all-cargo configurations. This never materialized, although the concept has found favor with other carriers in Indonesia. Jakarta-based Airmark Indonesia Aviation obtained a 737-300F from GECAS in April, following a similar deal in February involving GECAS and Cardig Air.

April saw Garuda sign an order for 11 A330-300 passenger planes, but the carrier has not given any details on its A330 freighter plans. Observers are confident, though, that the carrier will forge ahead with its cargo ambitions this time.

"I think they will bring in the freighters," remarked Ionut Mares, general manager for airfreight of DHL Global Forwarding Indonesia. He pointed to recent enhancements of the carrier's cargo facility at its Jakarta hub and the construction of a terminal for domestic freight, which will free up space at the existing facility to accommodate freighter operations.

Garuda is planning to launch a new routing between Jakarta and Taipei on May 24.

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