The popularity of aviation under the low-cost carrier (LCC) concept does not necessarily mean a damaged full-service carrier (FSC) market. Even Adam Air, which came under the spotlight following the mid-air disappearance of one of its airplanes on Jan. 1, has expressed its intention to enter the FSC market.
This step, said executive chairman of PT Bhakti Investama Tbk., Hary Tanoesoedibjo, the new boss of this airline, is intended to increase its income and at the same time help it face the liberalization of the aviation industry in ASEAN, since the Indonesian government agreed to implement an open sky policy in ASEAN territory as of 2008 (for passengers) and in 2010 (for cargo).
Hary said that there were two types of air passengers in Indonesia, namely passengers who choose cheap and safe flights, and passengers who want not only safety but also comfort. “There were as many as 36 million air passengers last year. This is a very big market,” he stressed.
Hary expressed optimism that the merger of Adam Air with the Bhakti Group, whose core business is media, among others RCTI, TPI and Global TV, will strengthen the competitiveness of this airline in the domestic and international aviation arenas.
Adam Air began operations in December 2003 and currently operates 26 Boeing 737 airplanes. It serves 21 domestic and international destinations, including Singapore and Penang. In the next five years, Hary noted, Adam Air aims to operate at least 60 airplanes and increase its flight routes and frequency at home and abroad.
Although the aviation trend worldwide is going in the direction of LCC, full service carriers have their own market. That’s why, although once successful with Citilink, Garuda Indonesia has never abandoned the FSC segment. Garuda felt it would be impossible to merge low cost carrier Citilink with Garuda. “Take managing a restaurant, for example. Of course, managing a five-star steak house is different from running a Padang food stall,” said Emirsyah Satar, president director of Garuda, to The Jakarta Post recently.
Of course, you cannot simply sit back when you wish to increase the number of customers in the FSC segment. For years Garuda has built up a reputation of offering a unique experience and in this way it has created passenger loyalty. With a positioning that is different from most other airlines, Garuda can offer value-added services to its loyal customers, particularly members of Garuda Frequent Flyers (GFF).
GFF members, now numbering about 15 percent of total Garuda passengers, enjoy a lot of benefits, such as access to the executive lounge at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport. The lounge offers comfort and various services, ranging from a bathroom with showers, the pressing of clothes, a cafeteria, a bar and Internet access all free of charge.
Garuda has had this airport lounge for many years but is now giving GFF members special attention. GFF membership is now categorized in four levels from the lowest to the highest, namely blue, silver, gold and platinum.
Various facilities are offered to GFF members of every level. For a blue level member, for example, the mileage is recorded while the membership card can be used as a discount card at a number of merchants. A platinum cardholder, meanwhile, enjoys a free baggage allowance of up to 20 kilos, can use the executive lounge and is involved in GFF activities, such as Garuda-sponsored classical music concerts.