Garuda Apologises for Flight Chaos


National carrier Garuda Indonesia was forced to issue a public apology on Tuesday for three days of flight chaos caused by the loss of crew rotation data during a switch to a new operating system.

More than 700 passengers have been affected by flight delays and cancellations which started Sunday and were continuing on Tuesday, company officials said.

Flights to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur were among those cancelled or rescheduled, as the company forked out tens of thousands of dollars in hotel expenses for stranded passengers.

Bookings had also been shut down until the problem — caused by someone failing to plug in a cable during the software switch — was sorted out, hopefully by Wednesday.

“Garuda Indonesia expresses its deepest regret and sincerest apologies to all its customers for the recent flight delay and cancellation on account of a new operational monitoring system being implemented,” the state-owned company said on its website.

“The necessary repairs are currently being carried out and we expect to normalise all operations as soon as possible.”

Garuda president Emirsyah Satar told reporters on Monday that the failure of the US$1.5-million operating system had led to the loss of crew flight schedules, resulting in staff being called to fly on their days off.

“The management apologises to our customers and also flight crew for this mess…. One unplugged cable caused us to lose all the crew schedule data,” he was quoted as saying in the Jakarta Globe.

The incident overshadowed Garuda’s entry on Tuesday into the SkyTeam Alliance alongside Air France and Korean Airlines, among others.

It is also an embarrassing blow to an airline that has been flying high since it was removed from a European Union safety blacklist last year.

Garuda has bought new aircraft, opened new routes and is planning an initial public offering this year to fund further expansion.

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