Indonesia's flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia will start flying daily on the Chennai-Medan route from April, 2008, Dharmendra Gursahani, Director, SMD Travel Corporation, which has been newly appointed as the airline's General Sales Agent (GSA) in India, confirmed with TravelBiz Monitor. The airline will deploy a B737-500 aircraft with a configuration of 84 seats in the economy class and 12 seats in the business class. "The airline will connect Chennai to Medan and fly onward to Singapore. Indian passengers will also be able to opt for connecting flights from Medan to Denpasar and Jakarta," informed Gursahani.
The ASEAN agreement, to which India is also a signatory, ensures that the airline faces no bilateral agreement constraints and can enhance operations to India at its will. The airline is expecting delivery of long-range aircraft in the next three years. According to Gursahani, this will see it connecting cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad to Medan and onwards, potentially, to Australia. For now, it has signed an interline agreement with Jet Airways, which will provide for feeder traffic from other cities into Chennai. Its ground handling operations will be managed by Air India. Further, the airline is on the Billing Settlement Plan (BSP).
The airline had been looking to start operations on the route since quite some time but was not able to materialise its plan due to lack of aircraft. In the past few months, airline officials had been holding multiple meetings with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India. Indonesia Tourism also recently increased its marketing and promotion activities in the India market, including hosting a delegation of Indian travel agents at Medan, earlier this year. "Indonesia Tourism will have an important part to play in boosting the passenger traffic from India since most of Garuda Indonesia's passengers are tourists," added Gursahani.