• 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

Before we get into why the majority of Garuda Indonesia's fleet is inactive, let's first take a look at the airline and see how it has gotten into the position it is in now. Despite being the second-largest Indonesian airline after Lion, Garuda Indonesia is considered as being the country's national flag carrier.

Garuda Indonesia is the countries national flag carrier. Photo: Getty Images

It is based at Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (CGK) in the nations largest city Jakarta. Garuda Indonesia operates flights to Asia, Australia, and Europe from the capital and Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS) on the island of Bali.

The airline started with a single Douglas DC-3

Founded as Indonesia Airways on January 26, 1949, the airline began life with a single DC-3 and by the mid-1950s had a fleet of 38 aircraft made up of the following planes:

  • 22 x DC-3
  • 8 x Catalina seaplanes
  • 8 x Convair 240s

The airline continued expanding throughout the 1960s, adding three Lockheed L-188 Electras to supplement its Convair CV-240 fleet. In 1965 Garuda Indonesia took delivery of its first DC-8, allowing it to expand beyond Asia.

Garuda Indonesia was the largest Fokker F28 operator

During the early 1970s, Garuda Indonesia took delivery of 68 Fokker F28s to become the world's largest operator of the plane. By 1980 Garuda Indonesia now had Boeing 747s to compliments DC-10s on long-haul flights. By 1990 McDonnell Douglas MD-11s had replaced the DC-10s allowing the airline to fly to Los Angeles via Honolulu.

Garuda Getty
Half of Garuda Indonesia's Boeing 737-800s are inactive. Photo: Getty Images

The late 1990s and early 2000s would prove to be a challenging time for the airline thanks to the Asian financial crisis and two crashes, one in Fukuoka in 1996 and the other in Medan in 1997. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington added to the airline's woes, as did the Bali nightclub bombing in 2004. By 2005 passenger numbers had increased, leading Garuda Indonesia to swap its Boeing 777 order for ten Boeing 787 Dreamliners. In July 2009, Garuda Indonesia announced an aggressive expansion that would not only overhaul the airline's image but double the size of its fleet from 62 to 116 aircraft.

Later followed a decade of scandals and financial misdealing's and even the airline's CEO smuggling a Harley Davidson motorcycle into the country in the hold of a new Airbus A330.

COVID-19 has the airline on the verge of bankruptcy

When COVID-19 hit in 2020, Garuda Indonesia furloughed 800 of its staff and laid off 160 pilots. Because of the pandemic, Garuda Indonesia had trouble servicing its debt and is now hanging on by a thread operating just five international routes. According to the aviation data and statistics website ch-aviation of Garuda Indonesia's fleet of 109 aircraft, only 38 are listed as active. The 38 aircraft currently in service with Garuda Indonesia are:

  • 6 x Airbus A330-300
  • 1 x Airbus A330neos
  • 3 x ATR72-600s
  • 23 x Boeing 737-800s
  • 5 x Boeing 777-300ERs
Garuda Indonesia has financial problems. Photo: Getty Images

Regarding the Boeing 787 Dreamliner order and orders for new Airbus aircraft, Simple Flying wrote back in March that Garuda Indonesia wants to cancel all orders as it has too much debt.