Garuda Indonesia’s New Business Plan Could See It Remove First Class Seats

  • Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737 MAX 8

    Garuda Indonesia

    IATA/ICAO Code:
    GA/GIA

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Hub(s):
    Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International

    Year Founded:
    1949

    Alliance:
    SkyTeam

    CEO:
    Irfan Setiaputra

    Country:
    Indonesia

Garuda Indonesia may scrap its first class cabin and cut most of its international routes as part of its restructuring. The carrier will instead focus on business, premium economy and economy seating in domestic and regional markets.


Garuda could remove first class

As Garuda Indonesia chases a return to financial viability, it could remove its first class cabins entirely amid a cut to its international network. The airline is set to abandon its first class service in favor of a business, premium economy and economy seating model.

Presently, just two of the airline’s eight Boeing 777-300ERs are fitted with eight first class cabins each, with its remaining 777s configured in a two-class layout. Over the years, Garuda has gradually trimmed its first class offerings, with eight of 10 777-300ERs offering first class cabins at one point.

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Interestingly, one of Garuda’s two Boeing 777-300ERs with first class seating is leased by the Indonesian government on occasion, sometimes leaving the carrier with just a single aircraft equipped with first class cabins.

International network cuts

Garuda looks set to cut a lot more than just its first class seating, according to State Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir. The airline will also make significant cuts to its international network as it focuses on serving the domestic and regional market.

Minister Erick Thohir said,

“Garuda had the wrong business model in the past, with its leasing costs way above the industry average, so we need to fix that.”

Eventually, Garuda will stop the majority of its international services outside of a select few destinations, such as Hajj pilgrimage flights to Saudi Arabia. Thohir added that Garuda Indonesia can still offer a wider international network through codeshare agreements with other carriers.

Pre-pandemic fleet size

Garuda’s extensive restructuring continues as it chases a return to profitability by the end of 2023 having last posted a profitable quarter in 2019. The carrier is restructuring approximately $9.5 billion in debts and successfully narrowed its losses in the first quarter of 2022.

Garuda Indonesia will look for leasing deals as it aims to boost its fleet to 120 aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

As a part of its overhaul, Garuda Indonesia will boost its fleet size to around 120 aircraft, taking it close to its pre-pandemic size. The additional aircraft are likely to arrive on lease, with Garuda estimating it will have around 70 planes in service by the end of 2022.

Garuda also plans to renegotiate its order for 49 Boeing 737 MAXs, either by reducing the order or deferring deliveries. As Simple Flying reported last month, Garuda has returned its only Boeing 737 MAX to its owner after the aircraft spent around three-and-a-half years in storage following the MAX groundings in March 2019.

Have you ever flown in first class with Garuda Indonesia? How does it compare to other first class products? Let us know in the comments.

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