There are three carriers competing ex-Sydney on the Bali route: Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Garuda. Jetstar and Virgin are pricing against each other at around $1300 when all the extra charges are taken into account. Yet you can get a Garuda fare for $950 – a huge difference. So the cost of reputation – the ability to charge a premium for brand – for Garuda is $300+ per passenger. That one hell of premium the other carriers are able to charge – especially Jetstar, an alleged Low Cost Carrier (a furphy if ever there was one). But is it fair?
Absolutely not but it clearly demonstrates the perils of taking your brand – and your customers – lightly, which Garuda undoubtedly did.
Now it is paying the price for years of shoddy management, prevalent across Indonesia’s entire aviation spectrum, which led to the country’s carriers being banned from flying to Europe and the US in 2007.
Those bans have since been lifted but the stench lingers, even though they have been the catalyst for a revamp of Garuda over the past few years.
New attitude, new aircraft.
It’s most recently resulted in Garuda winning the 2013 Skytrax award for “World’s Best Economy Class” – an accolade won by Singapore Airlines the previous year.
I’m not sure about that award – I flew them the other day and while the service was refreshingly friendly and cheerful, the food was ordinary as was the inflight entertainment.
But it was economy so what do you expect?
The best thing about the flight was the lack of passengers.
GA715 was maybe 25% full, even with dramatically cheaper tickets than the competition.
So Garuda is getting hit at both ends, while Bali has cooled a little as a destination among Australia with visitor numbers falling in recent times
It’s a tough world alright.
The lesson – never take your responsibilities as a business lightly.
Because one day you will pay. That is for sure.