By Warwick Brady
For The Bali Times
JAKARTA ~ Building airlines into great airlines is what I enjoy! After four years of spectacular growth in Ryanair, which is now Europeâ€™s largest airline, I learnt all the tricks of the trade of running profitable and successful airline.
I then moved on to India, to build Air Deccan into the second-largest Airline in the country. I was delighted to take up the reins of Mandala in July 2007, following the purchase of the airline by serious airline investors from the US (Indigo Partners) and Indonesia (Cardig International). The investors mandated that the new Mandala would comply with the highest international standards of airline safety and management.
My mission is to turn Mandala into Indonesiaâ€™s number-one airline. As part of the growth plans, Bali is a key element of our network strategy. Recently we announced Bali as a base for our brand-new Airbus aircraft, offering a network of seven cities and 24 daily flights. However, Bali is only part of the puzzle.
Mandala Airlines has a 38-year history of a being a well-run airline with experienced and professional staff and was identified as the best airline for investment in Indonesia.
The concept is to create a well-run, safe airline that capitalizes on Indonesiaâ€™s 25-percent growth year-on-year for the past five years. Mandala is a national brand with the Indonesian consumer, and we have now ordered 30 brand-new Airbus aircraft to ensure a modern, safe fleet. We also now have a sizable fleet of modern Airbus aircraft, of which four are brand spanking new.
The vision of the airline is to dominate Indonesian domestic travel and provide our customers with excellent customer service. Mandala considers customer service as safe, reliable, affordable travel with really friendly and efficient service. To deliver on our vision and objectives, we have already built a good operation. Our on-time performance from Bali exceeds 88 percent within 15 minutes and 99 percent within one hour, whilst we also complete 99 percent of planned flights. Itâ€™s all part of the new Mandala – delivering low fares, modern aircraft, excellent and friendly service and a reliable operation. We are also very particular about our cabins. Our cabin crew are the best in the industry, having won the industry award for the Best Cabin Crew 2007.
The ingredients for offering low fares to customers are derived from an efficient, well-run airline so that we can pass on the savings to our customers. The only way to achieve this is by having a really great team. One of my criteria before accepting this exciting challenge was to hand-pick airline veterans to work with me to create an international-standard operation. The result is a South African CEO, a New Zealand chief operating officer (Steve Wilks), a British director of engineering (Brian Bradbury), a Dutch director of flight operations (Captain Cor Blokzijl) and a Singaporean director of sales and marketing (Ai-ling NG). Of course our airline would not be complete without talented Indonesians such as our chief commercial officer, Irianda Susilo (ex Timezone CEO), and Yadi, our chief financial officer. Mandala is the United Nations of the Indonesian airline industry.
Considering two factors, such as an EU ban and the safety situation of Indonesia, the first task for our team is to ensure that we benchmark ourselves to international standards for safety. Consequently, we are now undergoing the IOSA Audit program, which is part of the International Air Transport Association that conducts Audits for International Safety Compliance. Itâ€™s not just about IOSA. We have spent most of our time building our safety systems. The key things we have done are:
â€¢Â Â Â Â Singapore Airlines Engineering Company is contracted to maintain our Airbus Fleet â€“ â€œBest in Industryâ€
â€¢Â Â Â Â Safety & Quality Department setup with investments into new safety system like â€œSafety Netâ€ and a special aircraft-monitoring system from Airbus called Airfase. All these things are aimed at mitigating risk.
â€¢Â Â Â Â Training â€“ Lots and lots of training is done and is planned for our pilots, engineers and flight attendants.
â€¢Â Â Â Â Audits â€“ Airlines are all about maintaining standards and regulations, so we now have our own in-house auditors, just like police, to check our systems.
And so the skyâ€™s the limit for Mandala, as we move into a new, exciting chapter of the airlineâ€™s history. Join us on our journey.
The writer is the new CEO of Mandala Airlines.