'I am very happy' at Garuda boss dismissal, tourism sector representative says

Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) chairman Hariyadi Sukamdani.
PHOTO: The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) chairman Hariyadi Sukamdani has welcomed the dismissal of flag-carrier Garuda Indonesia president director Ari Askhara by State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Erick Thohir.

"All this time there has been an effort to make the industry competitive but it was made complicated [by the president director]. As the chairman of the PHRI in the tourism sector, the removal of Garuda's president director makes me very happy," Hariyadi told reporters in Jakarta on Friday.

He said tourism representatives had tried to file complaints regarding high airfares and the ineffectiveness of the airline sector to the government.

"He [Ari] is the main cause as he created a cartel [among airlines]. He also dictated the market to the extent that [online booking platform] Traveloka was pressured, it is not fair," said Hariyadi, who is also the chairman of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo).

The chairman said that the removal of Ari would lead to improvements in the aviation and tourism sectors, adding that it could help boost connectivity and economic growth.

"It wasn't only passengers who were harmed but also the logistics industry as it became very expensive. That was very annoying," he added.

On Thursday, Minister Erick has said that he would fire Garuda's president director who was implicated in the smuggling of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and high-end bicycles on board Garuda Indonesia's new Airbus A330-900 plane when it arrived after its maiden flight from France last month.

The discovery raised eyebrows among officials as the aircraft was carrying only Garuda Indonesia executives and employees, according to the flight manifest.