We sometimes hear about airline employees getting fired or arrested for smuggling of some sort, but in this case it’s an airline CEO’s turn.
Indonesia’s State Owned Enterprises Minister has announced that Garuda Indonesia’s CEO will be fired. The reason? He smuggled some goods on the delivery flight of an A330-900neo last month.
Garuda Indonesia was excited to be taking delivery of their first A330-900neo, so as is the norm, airline executives flew to Toulouse to officially take delivery of the plane and fly it back home.
But that’s not all that they took home with them. Garuda Indonesia CEO Ari Askhara also brought a disassembled Harley Davidson motorcycle and two Brompton folding bicycles on this delivery flight.
Customs officials discovered the goods on the plane, though only wrapped up their investigation earlier this week.
They concluded that the CEO 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.
The problem is that they didn’t declare these goods. It also seems clear this wasn’t an oversight — a Garuda Indonesia spokesperson claimed that the goods had been declared, but that wasn’t the case. Presumably the CEO was trying to dodge the import tax on the products, which would have been tens of thousands of dollars.
As Indonesia’s State Owned Enterprises Minister explains:
“I will dismiss the Garuda president director and the process will be in accordance with regulated procedures.
It won’t end there. We will also look further if there are any other people implicated in this case. We will process this thoroughly as the case caused state losses.
This case has saddened me. While I’m working to raise the country’s image, some people within [SOEs] seem not to be ready.”
Askhara had been in his role at Garuda Indonesia since September 2018, after the previous CEO was fired for trying to make the company profitable. Askhara was previously the CEO of a state owned seaport operator, and prior to that was Garuda Indonesia’s CFO from 2014 until 2016.