“We immediately switched our business to transporting cargo to various cities and countries,” he added. “We will also [assist in] humanitarian missions.”The Transportation Ministry has restricted passenger travel for the period of April 24 to May 31 after also banning this year’s Idul Fitri mudik (exodus) in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. Around 18 million people traveled for last year’s mudik, which is seen as an important tradition to celebrate the end of Ramadan.As it now focuses on cargo flights, Garuda has obtained a permit from the ministry to load cargo in their passenger jets’ seating area as long as it does not exceed the maximum allowed weight. The airline also provides chartered flights for cargo. “There are businesspeople who charter our planes to transport their products,” Irfan said. “Previously, our plane was chartered by state-owned firms, institutions and BNPB [the National Disaster Mitigation Agency] to transport goods from Shanghai, China,” he added, referring to Garuda’s mission flights that brought in medical aid from China to Indonesia in March. The COVID-19 crisis has hit Garuda Indonesia’s business and revenue hard as the pandemic forces the airline to suspend most of its domestic and international flights following travel bans implemented by countries around the world and a slump in air travel demand as people stay at home.Garuda estimated a 31.9 percent decline in passenger and cargo revenue in this year’s first quarter from the corresponding period last year, according to Irfan’s presentation material to the lawmakers. The most affected routes are those to China, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. Garuda, a publicly listed company, has yet to publish its first-quarter financial report as of the time of writing. Stocks of Garuda, traded at the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) under the code GIAA, jumped 2.78 percent at 1:31 p.m. local time versus the 2.65 percent increase recorded by the main gauge Jakarta Composite Index (JCI).In addition to air cargo, Garuda will also serve repatriation flights for Indonesians abroad as well as for foreigners in Indonesia who want to go back to their respective countries. In the past few days, Irfan added, Garuda flew several repatriation flights for Indonesian citizens who returned from Middle Eastern countries and Japan.“Yesterday [Wednesday], we sent our airplane to Sao Paulo, Brazil, because the Brazil Embassy chartered it to evacuate Brazilians in Indonesia, Thailand and Hanoi in Vietnam. There are around 300 people on the flight,” said Irfan, adding that Garuda was in talks with other countries’ representatives for the possibility to provide similar services.Topics : National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has decided to focus its business on cargo and chartered flights for domestic and international destinations after the government’s decision to temporarily halt all travel axed most of the airline’s commercial flights. Garuda president director Irfan Setiaputra said on Wednesday that the airline could not pin its hopes on revenue from commercial flights anymore and would, therefore, use existing routes and aircraft to transport cargo. “Today, we fly 26 planes full of cargo; 20 planes to domestic destinations and six to international ones,” said Irfan during an online hearing with the House of Representative Commission VI overseeing state-owned enterprises.