Garuda Indonesia Adjusts London Route… Again

This airline needs to make up its mind!

To give you just a taste of the drama that has unfolded over Garuda Indonesia’s flight to London, here is a brief history:

  • In 2014 Garuda re-commenced flights to London Gatwick (following many years of suspension because of safety restrictions placed on the airline). This flight operated as a tag flight continuing on from its Jakarta to Amsterdam service.
  • In 2015, Garuda shifted its London operations from Gatwick to Heathrow after securing a valuable Heathrow landing slot and commenced non-stop flights to Jakarta, eliminating the Amsterdam tag stop. Until Qantas’ direct flight from Heathrow to Perth, the Heathrow to Jakarta flight held the title as the longest non-stop flight from Heathrow.
  • Flights from Jakarta to Heathrow stopped at Singapore along the way, as flights of this length could not take off from Jakarta with sufficient fuel as the runway was, at the time, too weak to handle that much weight. Return flights from Heathrow to Jakarta operated non-stop.
  • In September 2017, the Jakarta runway was strengthened, allowing the flights to run non-stop between Jakarta and Heathrow in both directions, and the flight has operated three times weekly ever since using their three class Boeing 777-300ER, including their incredible first class which Ben reviewed here.
  • In August 2018 they announced they would be suspending flights to London from late October 2018
  • Then just last week they announced that they would restart non stop Jakarta – London Heathrow flights from November 27, 2018, three times weekly using a Boeing 777-300 without first class. They currently only have two aircraft with first class which they are sending daily to both Tokyo Narita and Tokyo Haneda.

The latest change

Are you ready for this?

Garuda Indonesia has now announced that the route will be operated by an A330 with a stop in Singapore, again. The route will now start on November 15, just a few days away. The A330 does not feature first class.

It has not yet been announced whether the flight will stop in Singapore in both directions, or just on the outbound (Jakarta to London).

Garuda Indonesia’s logic is that the Airbus A330 has a smaller capacity, so fewer seats to fill than the Boeing 777-300, which was only 60 to 70% full when operated by the three class 777-300ER.

While that is true, this smaller aircraft presumably necessitates the Singapore stop, as I didn’t think a fully laden Airbus A330 had the range to make it all the way to London (will they have to weight restrict it even from Singapore?).

This makes it a one stop flight between London and Jakarta. While Garuda is a well regarded airline, there are so many airlines flying one stop between London and Jakarta.

Off the top of my head (there may be more):

So there is a huge amount of competition to transport passengers between London and Jakarta with one stop. The A330 will have fewer seats to fill than the 777, but I think will be even harder to fill with the stop in Singapore.

Those flying the entire journey have so many one stop options between the two cities, and those boarding just for the Singapore to London leg will have the excellent products and multiple frequencies of Singapore Airlines to choose from too.

Interestingly this decision has been made by Garuda’s new president, I Gusti Ngurah Askhara Danadiputra, who has only been in the role for two months. The previous decision to reinstate the route direct using the two class 777 may have been made by his predecessor.

The new schedule has not yet been released.

Bottom line

There’s still talk about some sort of Denpasar (Bali) stop/operation from London.

While I appreciate that Garuda is struggling to fill a 777 even on such a premium route, I think it will be even harder to fill a slightly smaller A330 with a stop in Singapore.

I would expect more changes to come to this route!

Are you booked on a Garuda Indonesia flight to or from London?

Comments

  1. I am hoping we’ll see the return of GA first class on long-haul routes, whether it being London or some other city.

  2. Bookings still show a nonstop with 777 departing Tue, Thu, and Sat as previously announced. He’s just lying to make the shares jump. Someone must’ve told him that the range wouldn’t even be possible for the current A330 planes in their fleet unless they’re talking about the upcoming A330-900neo

  3. The only real change that I believe has been put in place is that they’ll be using Terminal 4 at Heathrow, with other SkyTeam members, rather than Terminal 3. I can only hope premium passengers are allowed access to the Etihad lounge (surely Etihad could use any extra penny), in addition to the godawful SkyTeam lounge there.

  4. sell the slots and move on from London. Singapore and the UK are full of people who will only fly their flag carrier and will not choose the Garuda option anyways.

  5. I’m really surprised Garuda couldn’t make the LHR-CGK route nonstop work. If they can somehow market to the folks flying from the UK to Australia perhaps then I can see it possibly work. I’d much rather transit in CGK than in DXB or DOH.

  6. I may be wrong but it looks like you’ve missed a hell of a lot of one stop options?

    Jet Airways via BOM and DEL? Air India?
    LH, AF, LX, KL etc?
    TK?
    Iberia? Aeroflot?

    Yet you’ve included Sri Lankan and Oman Air?

    Again maybe I’m wrong and they just don’t fly to CGK, but Germany, France, & India and their respective airlines are certainly more important than Oman & Sri Lanka!

  7. As an indonesian, i hate to say this but its a dumb move for garuda to switch it to the A330 with a stop in singapore.. why? Simply there are a lot of better option than garuda in this route.. i know a lot of indonesian will choose singapore airlines over garuda because SIA has this luxurious image among indonesian that is quite difficult to compete with…. I think garuda should buy a lot of 787 to replace the A330. Why? Because the 787 is smaller and more efficient and garuda can open up a lot of route from CGK and DPS such as

    DPS=DME
    CGK-CDG
    CGK-FRA

  8. @K4:

    “I may be wrong but it looks like you’ve missed a hell of a lot of one stop options?

    Jet Airways via BOM and DEL? Air India?
    LH, AF, LX, KL etc?
    TK?
    Iberia? Aeroflot?

    Yet you’ve included Sri Lankan and Oman Air?

    Again maybe I’m wrong and they just don’t fly to CGK, but Germany, France, & India and their respective airlines are certainly more important than Oman & Sri Lanka!”

    You answered it by yourself:
    LH, AF, LX, IB, and SU don’t directly fly to Jakarta (anymore).
    KL has a stop in KUL.

  9. @K4

    nah mate, neither Jet Airways nor Air India flies to CGK. Nor does Lufthansa, Air France, Swiss, or Aeroflot. Iberia doesn’t even fly to Asia, let alone Jakarta.

    KLM flies from AMS to CGK with a stop in KUL, so it would be a two stop flight. AF and LH stopped CGK services a few years ago (both also had additional stops).

    Turkish is indeed missing though, and so is Saudia, Vietnam, Philippines et al.

    But to add Oman Air is starting to become a legitimate player in Jakarta.

  10. @[email protected]

    Yeahh, I have a lot of Indonesian friends who insist on only flying Singapore, or Cathay. But GA buying up a lot of 787s won’t help solve the problem. The thing is, not a lot of Indonesians value a pricier direct flight when there are tonnes of other (possibly better) options at cheaper prices.

    If anything, they better utilise those A330neos for good LH use.

  11. @K4 – Either people (YOU) cannot read English well, or choose not to. Ben did say “off the top of his head” …and he would have selected UL and Oman since he has flown them several times. Important “in your small minded world” means little to reality of the traveling public.

  12. @Jordan

    I did clearly say that I might be wrong.

    To compare Oman to India or Sri Lanka to Germany is indeed ludicrous.

    Oh, and it wasn’t Ben who wrote this article; it was James.

    I accept that those airlines don’t fly there, but this blog’s favouritism towards Oman air is a bit concerning considering how limited their destinations are.

  13. The main issue is this is a government owned airline in which government is changing management about every other month. There is zero consistency left and GA will need ro be careful to not lose that 5th star.
    This airline improved a lot when Satar was the CEO dor several years as he and his team had a consistent strategy.
    Right now they are all over the place.
    There is definitely a big market out of Indonesia. But prices have gone up too far and GA has outpriced itself. Now making it worse by adding a stop in Singapore where about everyone else stops.

    They need to work on their marketing as well, it was way better about 3-4 years ago.

  14. @Joey: the problem with CGK is that it has very few flights to Australia to connect to. I think I count 4 (1 PER, 1 MEL and 2 SYD) and they aren’t daily. There are lots more options in SIN, KUL or even DPS.

    While I’ve only transited in DXB once years ago and have never been to DOH, CGK would not be an airport of choice for me for transits, even though it has seen vast improvement over the years.

  15. Good to see a new Garuda photo at the top, but I see the same old one still made an appearance further down. Those people have been seen by an awful lot of people, an awful lot of times, haha.

  16. James, you are conflating stops and connections. Most (all? ) of the alternatives you list are a single connection, not a single stop. With one stop the same plane does both legs. That means that the time in Singapore is guaranteed to be as short as possible and there is no chance of reaching Singapore and discovering there is no aircraft for the next leg because you just flew in on it.

    Passengers may or may not need to de-plane in Singapore – you didn’t bother to say. If they stay on board then the stop is less inconvenient.

  17. Lots of choices for Jakarta ,other than Garuda which I would take . How is their engineering record these days , used to be a very risky airline in the 80s .

  18. @ Bour – GA haven’t announced how long the stop in SIN will be yet.

    I agree it will probably be the quickest way between the two cities however their competitors can offer better frequencies, even if the journey takes slightly longer which is also valuable.

    The likely GA LHR departure time (mid evening) is not ideal for business travellers vs say SQ who have four flights per day.

  19. @Joey / @Melvin,

    The LHR/CGK/MEL connections only work well twice a week. When they do, the southbound flight combo gets in around 21:30 elapsed time.

    However for my northbound return it was MEL/DPS/CGK/LHR with 8 hours in Denpasar (which was fine as I caught a taxi out to Seminyak for lunch) and then overnight in Jakarta. I was happy to do it for a sub-A$2k J Class flight.

    The trick is getting the direct flights between CGK and MEL or SYD on the same day the LHR flight operates, rather than the DPS / MEL¦SYD days.

    Most people couldn’t be bothered trying to line them up, so catch another airline. I however enjoyed the adventure.

  20. I don’t get it. Presumably they would use A330-200 with Trent 700 engines. Which have range up to 7,250nm (with Pax and checked baggages only) while the direct range for CGK-LHR is around 6,340nm.

    They also fitted their A330-200 with pretty light config with 222 pax in 2 class config. Taking account other aspects like weather and payload. They don’t need to have stopover in SIN.\

    Unless they are dumb enough to use A330-300 instead of A330-200.

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