Indonesia’s commercial aviation history began when Indonesian people was in struggle to defend their independence. The first commercial flight from Calcutta to Rangoon was made on January 26, 1949, using a DC-3 Dakota aircraft with the tail number of “RI 001” and the name “Indonesian Airways”. In the same year, on December 28, 1949, another DC-3 aircraft registered as PK-DPD and painted with “Garuda Indonesian Airways” logo flew from Jakarta to Yogyakarta to pick up President Soekarno. This Was the first flight made under the name of Garuda Indonesian Airways. The name "Garuda" was given President Soekarno, which he quoted from a Dutch poem composed by a popular poets that time, Noto Soeroto; "Ik ben Garuda, Vishnoe's vogel, die zijn vleugels uitslaat hoog bovine uw einladen", meaning "I am Garuda, Vishnoe's bird which spread its wing high above your archipelago".
Then, in a year later, in 1950, Garuda Indonesia officially became a state owned company. During that period, the company operated a fleet of 38 aircrafts comprising 22 DC-3, 8 Catalina flying boats, and 8 Convair 240. Garuda Indonesia’s fleet continued to grow, and eventually made its first flight to mecca carrying Indonesian hajj pilgrims in 1956. In 1965, the first flight to European countries started was made with Amsterdam as the final destination.