As the time nears for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, several airlines are ramping up operations to Saudi Arabia to cater to the increased demand from Muslims globally. Garuda Indonesia will be leasing an Airbus A330-300 aircraft to transport pilgrims to the cities of Jeddah and Medina in the Kingdom.

The aircraft

The Airbus A330-300 will be wet-leased from the Maltese carrier - Airhub Airlines. This aircraft will be operated from Syamsudin Noor International Airport (BDJ) in Indonesia to King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) and Prince Muhammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport (MED). The aircraft will operate with Garuda Indonesia from May 29th to August 3rd.

The A330 is nearly seventeen years old and has 328 economy class seats and 6 business class seats for a total capacity of 334.

Interior of aircraft leased by Garuda Indonesia
Photo: Adomas Daunoravicius

According to, Garuda plans to lease more aircraft to operate during this period and increase capacity. Reportedly, the airline prefers to lease Boeing 777-300ERs or Airbus A330s so that these routes can be served without the need to have a technical stop. The carrier also plans to use six of its own 777s and nine of its A330s for Hajj charter flights.

Wet and dry leasing

Wet leasing is the term used when an airline requires capacity and decides to lease an aircraft along with a crew, maintenance teams, third-party insurance, and the certificates required for operations. Quite often, the leasing airline has the choice of using its own IFE and catering or services provided by the carrier.

This is also known as ACMI, which stands for Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance. These are the four key elements provided by the lessor. This leasing method is primarily used when an airline has an immediate need for increased capacity and is usually short-term compared to dry leasing an aircraft.

Airbus A330 exterior
Photo: Adomas Daunoravicius

Dry leasing is a far more common practice within the industry, wherein an airline might decide to lease an aircraft from a lessor for long-term operations rather than purchasing a brand-new aircraft. In this instance, the lessor will provide the airline with only the aircraft, which must be crewed, maintained, and operated by the airline.

In this case, the leasing company will still have legal ownership of the aircraft; however, the airline will operate the aircraft with its own crew and will have the carrier's livery painted outside the aircraft for the duration of the lease. The aircraft will be operated under the Air Operators Certificate (AOC) of the lessee.

Not just Garuda Indonesia

The other carriers are ramping up operations to Saudi Arabia for the duration of Hajj and include the likes of Royal Air Maroc, which has scheduled 33,000 seats on 54 flights connecting several Moroccan cities to JED and MED.

Another significant example is the Air India group, which has scheduled to fly about 19,000 pilgrims to JED and MED. While Air India has scheduled 46 flights for the duration of this season, its low-cost subsidiary Air India Express also has 57 flights scheduled.


  • Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737 MAX 8
    Photo: Kwok Ho Eddie Wong via Flickr
    Garuda Indonesia
    IATA/ICAO Code:
    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier
    Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International
    Year Founded:
    Irfan Setiaputra