Fri, 05 Sep 2003

Garuda repudiates KPPU charge

Evi Mariani The Jakarta Post Jakarta

National flag carrier PT Garuda Indonesia has repudiated the conclusion drawn by the country's antimonopoly watchdog, which declared the airline had broken the Antimonopoly Law.

"PT Garuda Indonesia submitted a letter to the Central Jakarta District Court repudiating the KPPU's conclusion," Garuda's spokesperson Pujobroto said in a press statement made available on Thursday, referring to the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU).

Earlier, the KPPU had announced that Garuda was found to have violated the Antimonopoly and Unfair Competition Law, and that the airline should pay a Rp 1 billion (US$117,600) fine.

The conclusion was reached after the agency conducted a probe following a complaint filed by an anonymous computerized reservation system (CRS) provider.

The CRS provider accused Garuda of hampering fair competition in the domestic ticket reservation business through an exclusive agreement with its subsidiary, PT Abacus Indonesia, which supplies an international CRS called Abacus.

In the press statement, Pujobroto explained that the carrier had used the Abacus system since 1995, when it was the only CRS available in the country.

Garuda also deemed the partnership with Abacus an efficiency measure, he said.

Garuda retorted the KPPU's conclusion, saying that the carrier was "a CRS consumer", and thus had the right to choose a CRS provider that offered the most competitive price and quality.

The Antimonopoly Law passed in 1999 stipulates that a business may not make deals with an aim to control production or services, which results in unfair competition and/or violates consumers' rights.

The KPPU, which was established under the same law, has the authority to investigate businesses suspected of employing unfair business practices and impose sanctions on them.

The KPPU suffered a blow last year in its efforts to maintain fair competition in the country's business sector when a court overturned its decision against a number of parties allegedly involved in irregularities in the sale of the government's 72 percent stake in car maker PT Indomobil.