Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia is set to officially join international airline alliance SkyTeam in a bid to reach its target to become one of the top ten airlines in the world.

The carrier will meet delegates from SkyTeam partner airlines on Nov. 23 in Jakarta to sign an official agreement and discuss detailed practical matters.

Garuda president director Emirsyah Satar said Thursday that after officially joining the alliance, his carrier could fly passengers from the alliance’s partner airlines and vice versa, so the flight frequency of his carrier could be increased.

“It means that our passengers can fly anywhere with one ticket only,” he said as quoted by Gatra magazine, which was published Friday.

He said that joining SkyTeam was an effort from Garuda to provide traveling convenience and more choices for its passengers.

Currently, 13 airlines — Aerosoft, Aeromexico, AirEuropa, Air France, Alitalia, China Southern, Czeh Airlines, Delta Airlines, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, TAROM, and Vietnam Airlines — have joined the alliance. SkyTeam member-airlines travel to 841 destination cities in 162 countries with 16,409 flights per day.

To join the alliance, Garuda has to fulfill several requirements, such as having a dedicated terminal. The carrier must also fulfill 29 other criteria points covering aircraft numbers, punctuality and passenger-to-airport access.

The state airline has signed an MoU with state airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II, which manages the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to improve the facilities at 2E and 2F terminals.

Garuda signed another agreement Thursday with state airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I to upgrade the quality of services Bali’s Ngurah Rai and Surabaya’s Juanda airports.

With Garuda Indonesia joining SkyTeam, it means that there is already international acknowledgements on the quality of Indonesia’s airlines.

In 2006, European Union (EU) banned all Indonesian airlines from flying to its member-countries due to safety reasons. In 2009, EU lifted the ban on four Indonesian airlines — Garuda Indonesia, Mandala, Premiair and Air Fast, while in 2010, two other airlines — Indonesia Air Asia and Metro Batavia — have also been allowed to fly to Europe.

Garuda resumed the Jakarta-Amsterdam flights on July 1 with a stopover in Dubai using Airbus A330-200. The airline plans to introduce direct flight services linking Jakarta and Amsterdam once it receives its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Garuda received in January a four-star rating from UK-based Skytrax so that it was on par with airlines such as Air France and Emirates.

In October, it was revealed that a survey by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) has found Garuda the best carrier in terms of service quality in Southeast Asia.

The chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (Asita), Ben Sukma, said that joining an alliance such as SkyTeam would boost the popularity of an airline to an international level.

“In an airline alliance, each member can cooperate and promote each other. Garuda Indonesia will receive huge benefits from that,” he told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

However, he said that flight ease offered by the cooperation would not impact on tour and travel agencies.

Ben added that travel agencies would still prioritize lower prices over convenience and ease for their customers.

Source: JP/Rangga D. Fadillah