Ah, Garuda Indonesia. Talk about an airline with great employees but awful leadership. One of Garuda Indonesia’s longest serving CEOs has just been sentenced to eight years in jail.
Former Garuda Indonesia CEO jailed
Emirsyah Satar, who served as Garuda Indonesia’s CEO from 2005 until 2014, was sentenced to eight years in jail and fined ~1.2 million USD last Friday by Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission.
This is related to bribery and money laundering charges back when he was CEO of the airline, and involved ~3.4 million USD in payments he received from third parties over the procurement of planes and engines.
Specifically, Satar had received payments for the airline ordering Airbus A320 and Airbus A330 aircraft (for both Garuda Indonesia, as well as subsidiary PT Citilink), as well as for Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines.
Both Airbus and Rolls-Royce have had to pay big fines to settle corruption charges, with Rolls-Royce paying $800 million over bribery allegations in six countries, and Airbus paying $4 billion over corruption charges that span 15 years.
Satar could have received a worse sentence (both a longer jail sentence and a bigger fine), but the court went easy on him because of his role in “bringing Garuda Indonesia recognition as a prestigious airline in the world.”
Garuda Indonesia’s last CEO was also a disaster
Unfortunately the above situation isn’t even an isolated incident at the airline. In late 2019 Garuda Indonesia’s CEO was fired for smuggling goods on the delivery flight of an Airbus A330-900neo from France.
The CEO had brought a disassembled Harley Davidson motorcycle and two Brompton folding bicycles on this delivery flight, but didn’t declare them, as he was clearing trying to avoid paying import taxes.
He had instructed airline staff to find him a classic motorcycle back in 2018. Then the transaction was carried out in April 2019, through a bank transfer to the account of Garuda Indonesia’s finance manager in Amsterdam.
Garuda Indonesia has some incredible staff, though unfortunately the airline has been let down by management repeatedly. Hopefully that’s something that changes eventually, though I don’t have much faith based on the history of the airline…