Garuda’s Australian Boss Defends Safety Record

SYDNEY ~ The head of Garuda Indonesia’s Australian operations defended the airline’s safety record in the wake of the Yogyakarta plane crash that killed at least 21 people.

Garuda’s manager in Australia, Kerry Timms, said he would continue to fly with the airline, which had improved its safety record in the past decade.

“I have total confidence in flying with Garuda Indonesia. I do so very regularly and I do so with my family and that hasn’t changed in any way,” Timms told Australian commercial radio on Thursday.

“I have no idea what lies behind this, and that will be investigated fully.

“Ten years ago it was identified that were some (safety) issues and Garuda’s taken significant steps in employing external contractors and consultants … there are people who are well qualified in this area who have identified that Garuda has made significant progress in that regard.”

Timms said it was pointless to speculate on the cause of the crash until investigations into the disaster had been carried out.

“There’s no hard evidence yet,” he said. “The reports in the media indicate the aircraft came in steeply and quickly, and that’s clearly been identified by a number of reports from the passengers.

“But what has yet to be established is the reasons for that approach and I’m sure when there’s a government and full authority investigation into that then we will have a full explanation of what happened.”

Timms believed the plane’s pilot had been with Garuda for 22 years but did not know whether the pilot or co-pilot was in control when the crash occurred.

Five Australians are believed to have died in the crash.

But Brisbane-based travel company Flight Centre said it had not affected bookings in Australia.

“(There’s) no change, no impact,” Flight Centre spokesman Haydn Long said.

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