Garuda Indonesia Plans Nonstop Bali To US Flights

Filed Under: Garuda Indonesia

Oh Garuda Indonesia. Before I get into this post, let me say that Garuda Indonesia is an airline with amazing employees and horrible management. Airline executives have a different cockamamie idea every week.

Unfortunately we’ve seen quite a bit of corruption among the company’s leaders. Garuda Indonesia’s CEO from 2005 to 2014 is serving an eight year jail sentence, while Garuda Indonesia’s most recent CEO was fired for smuggling motorcycles into Indonesia on a delivery flight.

Executives at the airline seem more motivated by lining their own pockets, than doing what they can to make the airline profitable.

With that disclaimer out of the way…

Garuda Indonesia plans long haul Bali flights

You wouldn’t expect this to be the time where airlines and governments would talk about launching money-losing routes, but that’s exactly what’s happening in Indonesia right now.

As a matter of fact, the government of Indonesia and Garuda Indonesia are allegedly planning on launching money-losing routes specifically because of the current pandemic.

The Jakarta Post reports that Garuda Indonesia is in talks with the State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Ministry and the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry regarding launching long haul flights from Bali.

Under this plan, Garuda Indonesia would operate long haul flights out of Bali, rather than the current strategy of operating long haul flights out of Jakarta. Not only that, but the airline would significantly increase the long haul flights it operates, flying nonstop from Bali to cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris, and Mumbai.

According to Garuda Indonesia’s President Director, Irfan Setiaputra:

“Garuda and the Tourism Ministry have agreed that the only way to boost foreign tourist visits is by introducing direct flights to Denpasar. Hopefully, we can make it through this crisis and start direct flights from countries that have large spending capabilities.

We’ll also fit the schedule to accommodate tourists with morning arrivals and evening departures, so they can spend most of their time on the island.”

Garuda Indonesia could operate long haul flights from Bali

Garuda Indonesia would lose money on these routes

Over the years we’ve seen airlines propose so many routes that are completely unrealistic. “Hey, we’ll launch a nonstop Sarasota to Kota Kinabalu route with an A380, it’ll be great.” As you’d expect, they almost never happen.

The reality is that there’s no way Garuda Indonesia would make money with these flights:

  • We’re talking about some ultra long haul flights here, which are difficult to make money on during the best of times
  • For an ultra long haul route to work on a legacy airline you need high paying business travelers, and you don’t have many of those in a leisure market
  • Perhaps the biggest issue here is that some of these routes can’t even feasibly be operated nonstop; for example, Los Angeles to Bali wouldn’t be possible nonstop with a 777-300ER without a significant payload restriction

What I at least have to give Garuda Indonesia credit for is that the company has acknowledged that these routes would lose money, and that’s okay:

“Because if a Parisian, a Frenchman spends US $10,000 on his vacation in Bali, there is no problem if Garuda loses US $500 per passenger, because we can get US $10,500 in this country.”

Kudos to Garuda Indonesia for at least having realistic expectations.

In general I think there’s huge economic value to having direct air access to markets. However, I’m not sure Bali’s tourism problem is the lack of direct flights from the US:

  • The question should be how many incremental travelers would come to Bali because there’s a direct flight, who wouldn’t otherwise be willing to connect
  • More importantly, how much more do these travelers spend than others; arguably Bali doesn’t have a shortage of tourists, but rather has a shortage of tourists spending a lot of money in Bali

Garuda Indonesia’s 777-300ER business class

Bottom line

Garuda Indonesia is allegedly considering launching nonstop flights between Bali and the US. I give this about a 1% chance of actually happening.

I can appreciate the logic in general, and at least respect that the company acknowledges the routes would lose money. Even so, I don’t see this happening. And that’s particularly true when you consider that Los Angeles to Bali wouldn’t even be possible nonstop with any plane that Garuda Indonesia has. 😉

I could in general see merit to shifting some flights from Jakarta to Bali, though…

What do you make of Garuda Indonesia considering nonstop long haul flights to Bali?

  1. @ JAMES KUNZ — Hah, it does seem wrong, but I guess they’re assuming the ticket would cost $1,000, or something (and they’d lose $500)? Frankly nothing here makes sense, since it seems the range of Garuda Indonesia’s current fleet wasn’t even considered with this proposal, so…

  2. I agree with the points you made Lucky, Bali does have a shortage of tourists spending a lot of money, so I really don’t get the logic behind them saying that they could attract tourists that would spend $10,000 on the island by having a direct flight. Considering Garuda’s track record with announcing flights, I also doubt these flights would be launched.

    I’m an Indonesian living in Europe so I travel to Indonesia quite often, but Garuda is at the bottom of the list of airlines I’d fly with. Prices are high, you’d need to connect at Amsterdam and Indonesians aren’t treated as well as foreigners by some Garuda crew members (at least from my experience flying in economy; the same can be said when we travel to Bali, where most people working in the tourism industry would rather pamper foreign tourists than cater to us domestic tourists). If they change their long haul flights to Bali we’d have to connect there too to get to our final destination in Indonesia.

    Most Indonesians I know think of Singapore Airlines as our actual home carrier instead.

  3. If they couldn’t make London work in the best of the times, they have no chance making any of these markets work…

    And yes, shifting most of the international flights from Jakarta to Bali could be sensible though.

  4. @Kevin – I agree, even though the flight attendants don’t do something specifically offensive, it still feels like they are more attentive to foreigners than Indonesians even in Business class. They only serve a small amount of food during service and are always out of snacks.

    Flew with them long haul CGK-LHR twice, never again.

  5. It also only really helps people living around Southern California or the Bay Area. If you live in Dallas, New York or Chicago you would still have to make a connection on the West Coast. Might as well fly via Istanbul, Dubai, Doha, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul or Taipeh if you have to connect anyways.

  6. I flew Garuda in business-class on several domestic flights of 90 minutes or so last summer. I also flew several low-cost airlines in business across SE Asia. I will say that service on Garuda is very good. Even short meals have a meal. This is common across the region—or was before coronavirus. Of course, no alcohol. They also have (had) an exceptional international first-class product. But the rest of the Garuda experience was pretty so-so for the cost. Their lounges were horrible. The alcohol in Jakarta was $5 wine. The food was inedible. Again, completely different experience for international first-class but I couldn’t imagine paying a premium to fly Garuda over business-class in competing airlines.

    Maybe Garuda should enhance its partnership with Delta. Especially since Delta’s real with China Eastern looks unstable with the growing tension between China and the US.

  7. @Greg – Yes, it’s not something specifically offensive and I doubt it was done intentionally, but I can still feel the difference. Sad to hear it’s not much better in business class.

    I think this even extends to their ground staff – when I had to take Garuda to fly domestically in Indonesia I would always speak English and use my European driver’s license to check in as I’d get much better service compared to if I used Indonesian and my Indonesian identity card (it helps that I have an English name and I don’t look particularly Indonesian). They suddenly became much more attentive and helpful.

  8. @JAMES KUNZ —

    I took that comment to mean “If someone would normally spend $10,000 in Bali on their vacation, it will be easy enough for us to get them to increase their in-Bali spending by $500 (which is only 5%).” Not an entirely straightforward reading but the only one I can think of that makes any sense.

  9. I doubt this ever happens but as somebody who wants to visit Bali in a post-covid world, I would love to do a direct US to DPS flight. Too bad Delta would probably charge an exorbitant amount of SkyMiles for it.

  10. Not holding my breath, but I’d be tempted as a SkyTeam flyer. First Class is elusive in the SkyTeam world and even harder to book with points. Hopefully they find a way to pull this off.

    +1 Ross – HNL:DPS could be kinda fun! I wouldn’t even mind doing the ATL:HNL in DeltaOne (old aircraft config) to make it work. The crews (always in a good mood) plus a few Hawaiian touches make this route more fun than most.

  11. Would love to see DPS-CDG direct flights… But doubt it will happen any time soon..

  12. Direct flight does make more sense in the current COVID environment, since price isn’t the only consideration. Transit and quarantine rules make connecting flights much more challenging, even if money isn’t high on the priority list.

  13. As a OW DFW based Bali fan, I’d try the flight when all the COVID stuff slows down. I thought it would be SEA or HNL, but LAX makes more sense the SFO due to the DL feed.

  14. With respect to Paris & LA, they have connecting partners in the form of Air France & Delta. The first passengers on this route would be from the ranks of Chrissy Teigen & John Legend, but if they get their game right, it could work alright. I’m as skeptical as the next guy, but there’s a good amount of room where they can do this right.

    I heard that the latest CEO was installed by a minister who’s actually good at his job. I won’t hold my breath, but if it meets their expectations, I wouldn’t be too surprised.

  15. @Ross. Imagine all the surfboards being checked in during the summer months flights when it’s flat.

  16. Yes i would be more willing to go with a direct flight from the US, its a simple as that.

  17. What’s The Love Land Foundation?
    Why specifically therapy only for black women and girls?

    It would be helpful to have you address the various, recent programs/links/initiatives you post all over your site (like you did with the trees).

  18. This also seems somewhat pointless. For pax coming from LA or SF they might have some edge, but for everyone else coming from any other large city in the US, there are already tons of one-stop options available (via DOH, DXB, TPE, HKG, MNL, SVO, ICN, and IST among others), so I’m not really sure what the advantage of adding one more option via LAX or SFO would be…

  19. If it weren’t for this Wuhan Covid disaster, I’d consider this to be interesting “out of the box” thinking on the part of Garuda. I see the logic in the thought process, even if I share Lucky’s doubts that it would be viable. Of course, if the gov’t was really serious they would also invest in the construction of more high-end hotels on Bali because those high paying Parisians and Angelinos need places to stay. By most accounts, only a relatively small percentage of accommodations on Bali are truly high end at the moment.

    Unfortunately, the damn virus is making it tough to even take a vacation to Florida, never mind Bali!

  20. @Sam —

    Under normal circumstances I think you’d be right about other one-stop options. However, given the ongoing uncertainty about if/when Americans will be allowed in various other countries even as transit passengers, a one-stop routing through a US airport is more dependable than a one-stop in a third country.

  21. The idea is not without merit. One of the several indicators that the future doesn’t look too good for Middle East carriers : connecting US/Europe to Asia and Oceania with a stopover in the middle might not sound like a great option in post-covid years…

  22. @stogieguy7 – I really don’t think Bali has a shortage of high-end hotels. I mean “high-end” is subjective but in terms of 5 star hotels, Bali has plenty.

    and they’re full of Chinese people mostly

  23. Nonstop flights open up the possibility for less sophisticated flyers/travelers to consider Bali. Point and shoot camera vs SLR.

  24. @Kevin

    > “ Most Indonesians I know think of Singapore Airlines as our actual home carrier instead.”

    Congrats on being mentally colonized. I’ve seen how indonesians get treated in singapore and it’s not pretty.

  25. Garuda ( great airline run under Dutch administration ) used to fly Los Angeles – Honolulu – Biak – Denpasar – Jakarta They could potentially make money if other airlines suspend routes entirely

  26. “Garuda Indonesia is an airline with amazing employees and horrible management.” > As an Indonesian, I completely agree

  27. Why would someone spend $10,000 in Bali. How could they? It almost seems like you’d have to go out of your way to do that.

  28. What a way to get to Mumbai from the Bay area – SFO-DPS-BOM, with a fun stopover in Bali… we can always dream, right?

  29. @stogieguy7

    I fly to Bali every chance I get and stayed in the Conrad Bali for two weeks in 2019 AND 2020. Our flights ALWAYS require transition in Hong Kong thus we try to use JAL and CX. The Bali Conrad is my second favorite luxury hotel after Conrad Rangali Island. The Ritz Carleton Nusa Dua is also nice but too expensive for what you get.

    A direct flight without having to transit would be so great that it is a no-brainer.

    Does Garuda have any A350-900 on order that could make the trip?

    We flew Garuda back in the days before it was banned by Europe and it was a ‘wet’ flight and very comfortable even in coach. Ben has written about how wonderful Business and First class are aboard so I presume that will still possibly apply.

    I hope they do go ahead with this plan. And hopefully they will sell SFO-CDG flights with a two week stopover in DPS! I’ll even consider paying cash for that routing (since I have no connection to Sky Pesos).

  30. I would spend money in Bali if there is a direct flight acutally, probably I am the kind of that customers they are targeting. I Might not spend 10,000 dollars that huge amount, but 2000-5000 probably a reasonable amount. I actually preferred to go to Southeast Asia countries rather than Caribbean, it has a lot of advantages I personally preferred which Caribbean could not offer, like much cheaper food/fruits and diversity of the food. Hotels across the southeast Asian countries are generally much cheaper and the services are superb. It also offers me some kind of feelings I could not fill in Caribbean, I do not know what it is but it is. If there is a direct flight, it will be possible for me to do over the weekend trip like 3-5 days or a week or so, though I am not sure how many other customers would like to do in this way.

  31. GA, with all these scandalous CEOs always toy around the idea of relaunching LAX to CGK/DPS.
    GA introduced this route back in the mid 80’s, as an Indonesian student studying car design in CA and as an airline enthusiast I found that this is one of the most interesting unprofitable routing -LAX-HNL-BIK(yes, this is Papua, Indonesia)-DPS on a MD-11.
    … and as far Irfan’s idea of this route, think about Harley Davidson instead of Bromptons-just kidding
    But seriously I believe he’s proposing a direct flight. In this case DPS-NRT/HND-LAX on a 777-300ER had also been considered back in 2017 by the previous CEO. There’s definitely a lot of interest in bringing back this unprofitable route among GA management

  32. I don’t see how Garuda can compete against Singapore Airlines. Fly to Singapore from the West Coast or East Cost on Singapore Airlines (the best in the world in economy) Then just another 7500 krysFlyer points in economy from Singapore to Bali.

  33. Well I feel either they should also invest to expand or make Denpasar Airport bigger and better first to support more tourists or Long haul flights. I always thought Denpasar airport a little crowded back when there were a lot of tourists and the airport was not efficient or nice to fly in or out.

  34. they should also invest to expand or make Denpasar Airport bigger and better first to support more tourists or Long haul flights. I always thought Denpasar airport a little crowded back when there were a lot of tourists and the airport was not efficient or nice to fly in or out.

  35. I am a Garuda Platinum member, living in Indonesia. Completely agree that the employees are generally excellent but the management seem to have no idea what they are doing. The CGK LHR route was tampered with so many times, that I started flying SG because they are reliable. They cancelled the DPS BOM route previously but it did have a refuelling stop at BKK so maybe a non stop would attract more passengers. Ultimately, In my opinion, I dont see flights to the USA coming any time soon.

  36. I actually think it could work but of course they’ve got to have the right long haul aircraft to make a direct flight feasible. Maybe a stopover in Japan would be more practical. However there definitely is a market for an SFO to Bali corridor because Bali is a top destination for yoga enthusiasts in the Bay Area and many of us would love to bypass Jakarta on the trip over so if they can pull it off I’ll be one of the first to buy a ticket…

  37. @Bill

    Just passed though DPS in late February and the airport expansion and modernization is complete and it is very nice! The only complaint is the very crappy lounge used by Qatar and Cathay. It is a dung heap and should be upgraded. A very sad experience.

  38. Who says that GA is about making money:

    1) GA already had ambitions for DPS before the pandemic. They were discussing DPS-FRA with GA or QG using A339. Now from what I observe, Indonesian businesses are not really in pandemic mode or have the capacity to quickly adapt to extraordinary times. We carry on business as usual (with masks). This is probably one of those case.

    2) As a legacy flag carrier, the GA brand will survive as long as Indonesian Governments exists. Unless Indonesians starts to think the carrier is cursed.

  39. Smuggling mopeds by Garuda… how about assassination and murder?

    Come to think of it, yes crew are really friendly to foreigners. I was on a CGK to LHR via SIN flight a few years back, didn’t think much of it then but makes sense now reading some of the comments.
    On the first leg to SIN I noticed some of the locals just weren’t being treated the same as I was. I assumed perhaps they’re only going to Singapore, then I realised these passengers were also going to London and during the whole flight it was just little things I was getting and they weren’t.

    The airline is full of confusion, I mean that change for the London flight from Jakarta to Medan… what the hell was all that about?

    I actually avoid transiting through Bali as I’ve had bad experiences with both Customs and Immigration on all occasions. It’s understandable for people exiting DPS but for transiting international travellers with final destination to an international airport in Indonesia I don’t see why they have to throw their weight around.

    Garuda really are too expensive as well, fares are usually double to what Singapore Airlines charge.

  40. I think whoever feel is Indonesian Nationals , should be proud of their own National Airline “GARUDA INDONESIA ” not to put them down and not just because you fly with SINGAPORE AIRLINES does make you look or feel special like flying your own National Airlines …
    To those Indonesian people who fly mostly SQ , dont you know actually GARUDA is way far better than SQ ??? y’all just dont know (especially INDONESIAN NATIONALS those who sympathize too much SQ) … ASHAMED!! Where is your sense of your Nationalisme??? Dont you feel proud of having your own National Airline??

    No matter how bad reputation it has before and including Past mismanagement,
    I believe in Garuda Indonesia, I believe it can shine and it can fly high again and can compete with other international carriers.
    No airline is perfect including Singapore Airlines …
    I believe Garuda Indonesia will shine and fly high with its amazing wings …
    Dont underestimate Garuda Indonesia !!! (Especially those Indonesian Nationals who love to take pride with SQ ) or their preferred airline might be

  41. So my wife took a chance and stayed in Ubud for a March trip this year, and had to deal with Singapore changing there transit rules during the Covid rise in cases, had to get to Tokyo from Bali. Only flight was on Garuda, and we had booked First class which was exceptional on a 777. Plane wasn’t brand new by all means, but service was very good and the on board chef was a plus. Would be fantastic to have a direct flight from Western US.

  42. Garuda used to fly to LAX from Jakarta way back in the day. They used to do CGK-DPS-BIK-HNL-LAX with DC-10s (and I think 747-200s for some time as well), and scrapped the BIK stop when they upgraded to MD-11s. My uncle worked for the Indonesian Consulate in Chicago, and used to frequent the CGK-DPS-BIK-HNL-LAX route as GA was fully government-owned back then. Apparently, there was a decent amount of demand for that route, or so I was told.

    Never flew GA longhaul myself, but I think it’s worth changing once this madness is over.

  43. @[email protected] – Flying Garuda as an Indonesian makes you feel like a second class citizen instead of special. It’s also just simply not practical in my case; let’s say I’m in CPH and I needed to go to KNO. With GA, I’d have to fly to AMS, then CGK and another flight to backtrack to KNO. With SQ it’s a one stop itinerary and SIN is one of the best places in the world to spend a layover. As a bonus I’d get miles I could spend on Star Alliance, which I fly with more (such as ANA) instead of SkyTeam, which I usually avoid (I don’t like KLM either).

    Honestly I don’t get the “nationalism” argument. I’m simply comparing the different experiences I get for the money I spent for an airline to get me from A to B. I couldn’t care less whether it’s my “national carrier” or not. Why would someone spend twice or thrice the amount of money, change planes thrice instead of once just to get worse service, all so that you could fly with your “national carrier”?

    I think a perfect example is how each airline treats their nationals when they arrive at their home airport. At least based on my experience flying with them, SQ would say a warm welcome home to all Singaporeans after they land in SIN, while GA would instead welcome to all foreign tourists to Indonesia after they land in CGK on international flights.

  44. I believe that more people are going to want direct flights for vacations. It removes transit in random airports with Coronavirus risk . Less time to wear a mask on a direct flight . The Indonesian government will be subsidising this somehow to generate and help the Bali tourist market .

  45. It is actually racism for Garuda employees to treat foreigners ( white or black or brown ) better than Indonesian nationals . Everyone should be treated the same .

  46. It will be a complete waste of money for Garuda Indonesia (or the Indonesian government) to fly to the U.S. Price wise, Garuda will never be able to compete with so many airlines already flying to the U.S. from Asia (with connections to Jakarta or Denpasar). Garuda is just unreasonably expensive. Moreover, Garuda has one of the worst point systems in the world. It costs unreasonable numbers of points to fly on Garuda internationally, and no U.S. credit card points (including Amex and Thankyou points) can transfer to Garuda.

    Just like in the past, this new Garuda’s plan to have direct flights to the U.S. is doomed to fail.

  47. The other issue is that Garuda website does not accept U.S. credit cards for purchasing flights. This is really strange!! Air Asia, Singapore Airlines, and JetStar websites have no issue at all taking U.S. credit cards.

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