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Indonesia: Garuda touches down in Europe
A six-year flying ban to Europe has finally been lifted and Indonesian national carrier Garuda Indonesia relaunched its Jakarta to Amsterdam direct service this week, inviting government officials, legislators, businesspeople and journalists on the voyage that marked the beginning of a new era for the airline, according to the Jakarta Post.
For captain pilot Ari Sapari, who flow the initial Jakarta to Amsterdam flight, the event was a proud moment. “It brought back memories of when I flew Garuda before we stopped the operation six years ago,” he said.
When the Airbus A330-200 touched down at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, the passengers on board applauded the flight deck for a smooth landing. Excitement turned to outright delight when two fire trucks from the local fire brigade began showering the aircraft with water — a ritual at the airport when an airline makes its maiden arrival there.
Ari, an executive vice president for operations at Garuda and a presidential pilot, said he was very proud of having been given the opportunity to pilot the maiden flight marking Garuda’s return to Europe. Garuda stopped flying to Europe in late 2004 to cut costs.
The carrier was then banned three years later from flying to Europe after the European Union imposed a flight ban on Indonesian airlines following a string of air accidents and heightened security measures.
For Wiyati, an Indonesian living in the small town of Schellinkhout and the owner of Waq travel agency, Garuda’s return means she now has more options to offer clients.
“We usually fly our guests to Indonesia using Singapore Airlines and Emirates but now we have Garuda so we can offer them an alternative. The air fare [of Garuda] is cheaper,” Wiyati said.
Garuda prices a Jakarta-Amsterdam round trip ticket at US$1,450. Currently, as part of a promotion for new customers, Garuda is offering a buy-one-get-one free policy.