Garuda Indonesia Launching Strange New London To Bali Route

Garuda Indonesia is one of my favorite airlines. In my experience they have among the friendliest cabin crew of any airline.

The airline has gone through so many management changes, and they seem to change their strategy constantly.

Garuda Indonesia’s inconsistent London route

Their London route is the perfect example of that:

  • In 2014 Garuda Indonesia relaunched flights to London Gatwick, following the route being suspended for many years; they operated this route via Amsterdam, as a fifth freedom flight
  • In 2015 Garuda Indonesia switched this flight from London Gatwick to London Heathrow, after securing a slot there
  • The flight then operated via Singapore, until 2017, when the flight started being operated nonstop in the eastbound direction
  • In October 2018 the airline suspended the London route altogether
  • Then the airline announced that they’d relaunch nonstop flights between Jakarta and London as of November 2018, using a 777
  • Then the airline announced that they’d actually operate the route via Singapore in both directions, using an A330

Well, now the airline has changed their strategy yet again. This change is really strange.

Garuda Indonesia launching London to Bali route

As of January 22, 2019, Garuda Indonesia will operate a nonstop flight from London Heathrow to Bali Denpasar. The route will operate 3x weekly (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays), and replaces their London to Jakarta flight. The schedule will be as follows:

GA87 London Heathrow to Bali departing 9:55PM arriving 9:15PM (+1 day)

That flight will cover a distance of 8,168 miles, and is blocked at 15hr20min.

Garuda Indonesia will use a Boeing 777-300ER for the route, though it will be a two cabin plane, so won’t feature first class.

Garuda Indonesia’s 777 business class

Now are you ready for the really strange part? In the other direction Garuda Indonesia won’t operate from Bali to London, but rather will operate a flight from Jakarta to London.

Okay, fair enough, I figured they were operating a “direct” flight from Bali to London, meaning a single plane flew from Bali to Jakarta to London. But nope, they’re not doing that. They’re literally just operating a flight from Jakarta to London, with the following schedule:

GA86 Jakarta to London departing 12:05PM arriving 8:00PM

So if you actually want to fly roundtrip from London to Bali you’ll fly westbound on a 737 connecting to a 777.

I’m not really sure what the airline is thinking.

I can totally make sense of a London to Bali route, but only operating it in one direction, with no “direct” flight (even if it has a stop) in the other direction is just plain strange.

I want Garuda Indonesia to succeed, but I’m not sure how they can ever do that with how often they change this route. WOW Air has a more consistent schedule than they do. 😉

What do you make of Garuda Indonesia’s new London to Bali flight?

(Tip of the hat to InsideFlyer)

Comments

  1. It makes sense if you consider that not every passenger will be flying to Bali as the final destination. In fact I would say most would be continuing on domestically. Passengers would be connecting to all points domestic from Bali.

    On the return to London due to the prevailing winds, Bali is too far but Jakarta is a shorter distance from London. Passengers can connect from all points domestic via Jakarta.

    This strategy rules out any possibility of attracting London-Australia passengers. Although Garuda never really marketed itself as much of an option in this market as it is already saturated with the Gulf carriers and TG, SQ, CX.

  2. Weird and stupid I’ve never heard of any airline doing something like this so if you want to fly to Jakarta you need to go all the way to Denpasar and fly back on a domestic

    It’s like AA operating London – Los Angeles and the inbound from Nashville

    I give it 3 months

  3. I’m going to guess that this is because of the runway conditions at Bali prohibiting such a heavy take-off weight needed to get to London.

  4. This is so bizarre… I think the eastbound non-stop to Bali would fill a hole with no-one currently running nonstop service to a very popular leisure destination from London, however why not at least originate the flight in Bali in the return?? By forcing passengers to change aircraft during the stopover in jakarta why’re eliminating any real advantage over all the there Asian carriers that can serve this route with one-stop!

    @Jeremyfly the route would not be feasible nonstop westbound from Bali to London with a 77W in any case due to prevailing winds. The airport at Denpasar can certainly handle a fully-fuelled 777, they receive nonstops from other parts of Europe, Russia and the Middle East already…

  5. No big surprise here. The ‘triangle’ routing had been rumoured much of the 2nd half of last year. Apparently there’s alot of traffic to Bali from London and LHR-Bali-Jakarta-LHR ought to be more economically viable than Jakarta-London and rtn.

    Indeed i’d think it odd that it’s not the same plane that the returns but as pointed out in the comments, the runaway at Bali can’t accomodate a full load to London. I mean, they operated flights to London via SIN because of runway restrictions at Jakarta.

    The problem remains that Indonesia – Europe is a low yielding market with mostly tourists.

  6. The same used to happen for some SriLankan flights from Colombo to Europe and Japan via Male in one-direction. It was probably meant that passengers could reach the resort destination as quickly as possible, though they didn’t last long. I flew once on NRT-MLE-CMB on one flight and due to the extra distance it took 4hrs plus than flying non-stop to CMB. At least there is no such major detour on the Garuda route, a stop in CGK won’t add too much extra time.

  7. many reasons…

    not sufficient catering in Bali

    Security not up to standards to allow direct access to UK

    whatever the reason, this route will fail

  8. While this route is weird, I do agree with @DavidS as a good amount of passengers would be connecting through Jakarta to get on a flight to London or through Bali after their London flight.

    Curious to see how long this lasts though. ‍♀️

  9. The route would only be strange if it was inferior to the competition but nobody else flies direct from Bali to London (I don’t think there are even charter flights?) at least flying direct outbound gives them a competitive advantage. (And, in my experience, psychologically tourists often seem more interested in outbound travel arrangements than inbound.) Additionally, they can also pick up some Jakarta to London passengers.

    I think it is questionable whether Bali can sustain a direct link at all but I take a more positive view than you on the triangle routing.

  10. I think there’s a market for Garuda to compete with the gulf carriers and other Asian carriers in the kangaroo route. Just thinking about it, I’m not sure which skyteam members market to kangaroo route flyers (China Eastern? Vietnam Airlines?)
    I know Garuda has routes from Bali to SYD/MEL/PER so this LHR-DPS flight may possibly cater to London-Australia flyers too. The return may be trickier (i’m guessing those flyers would transit directly from Australia to Jakarta and then to London rather than going back to Bali.)

  11. TBH, there’s no way Garuda are going to axe the London route whether its profitable or not because it’s so high profile for them. I think it’s hard for them to fill a 777-300 on the route which is why they tried it with A330, however, with the stop in Singapore it wasn’t anymore appealing then taking Singapore airlines. i If they had some spare cash I could see this route working with a 787- better loads and, weather or not the return being from Jakarta because of range etc, it will be able to fly nonstop both ways to Bali.

  12. @Joey. – just wrote the same thing then looked up…haha.

    Exactly, they can transit the Aussie market through DPS outbound and CGK on the return. Holiday makers to DPS get there more quickly, and will not care that much about a short hop to CGK (since they do it already)…and are in that afterglow state from the energy ;-). arhhh the energy of Indonesia can feed “humans” for weeks.

    If this is the plan, its very smart.

  13. In the picture of the cabin crew. The one dressed in purple looks exactly like my old Biology teacher Dr Jayaram (Dr J as we called her) she always talked about how her sister was cabin crew so maybe that’s her.

  14. @Curious: the 777 will either rest until morning, or fly a redeye to China/Japan

    I fly the London-Jakarta nonstop pretty regularly with them, but the lack of consistency is getting silly and ridiculous. I’ll be switching to QR/SQ, depending on whose fares are lower. It’s worth noting that the current CEO of Garuda is Balinese, but surely the government of Indonesia is wiser than that. How anyone authorised this routing is beyond me! 16.5 hours from London to Bali, and for what, really?

    Farewell, Garuda. It’s been great

  15. As discussed, the return is not feasible, so the question is whether they should do the outbound.

    First, Bali is a somewhat significant tourist destination from London, especially amongst wealthier people.
    Second, if combined with a tourist office push, and no mention that the return is not non-stop, few people will notice when booking (and it’s still better than a stopper both ways.
    Third, the capacity seems too great – this would be better suited to a 787.
    Fourth, triangle routes are absolutely not unknown, either for capacity or for performance reasons.

    I can see the logic but I do fear too much capacity.

  16. I can believe that the route might be profitable if (or when) they use 787-8 or A330-800, but a 777-300ER?

  17. It’s still a good option for London-Bali traffic though- direct on your way on vacation and just a short hop and a quick connection before settling in for the flight home. If successful I imagine they’ll need to swap the domestic for an A330 or 77W, which do appear on the DPS-CGK route including selling F!

    Most other routes involve changing in the ME which a lot of people do not like for various reasons

  18. Currently the only connection other connection out of Bali is a flight to Papua New Guinea, so I would expect to see a connection to Jakarta aligned, otherwise that would be pretty strange!

  19. @Curious @Doug
    Garuda has a variety of routes operating out of Bali with the 777, including Denpasar to Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai, as well as flights to and from Jakarta. They can also sub in one of their 7 daily A330 frequencies from DPS to CGK with the 777 anytime.

  20. Planespotters.net lists 9 of the 10 B77W as leased (https://www.planespotters.net/production-list/search?fleet=Garuda-Indonesia&manufacturer=Boeing&type=777&fleetStatus=current). When do the leases expire and Garuda can finally get some A350s and/or B787s to make these routes more profitable? All their regional competition have one type or both: BI,SQ,MH,TG,VN,PR,CZ,CI. Their forthcoming A330-900neos will be for Asia/Aus. routes.

    I do not see LHR-DPS working for anyone wanting to fly to other Indonesian cities due to the most will involve back tracking, at least with CGK there are the most east bounds domestically (CGK-SUB has many flights per day). But I doubt there was much traffic between LHR and non-CGK/DPS as there’s not much of an Indonesia community in the UK as with other SE Asia countries.

    How seasonal are tourists to Bali? Dec-Feb is the (heavy) rain sesaon and Jun-Sep is the dry season. How empty will the B77W be in the southen hemisphere summer (ignoring Christmas)?

    Surely, the best LHR-CGK option is SQ due to the amount of flights per day to choose from (4 from LHR) and SIN-CGK (#16 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_busiest_passenger_air_routes#World). GA only has one flight per day to MEL and SYD from CGK and DPS (not all are daily) unlike SQ which has many more flights per day so cannot see GA attracting many LHR-AUS traffic, espcially in the rare chances of delays/IRROPS.

    As a SkyTeam flyer I did have a LHR-CGK-SIN planned but I will not bother with GA anymore and switch to VN LHR-SGN/HAN-SIN instead.

  21. If you are basing your views on this route on leisure travel from London to Bali then there are two real considerations – cost and ease. I have flown to Bali from London purely for a holiday -it’s a bit of a schlep currently and I wasn’t so enamoured with Bali that I’d rush to do it again. With this new flight the short hop back to CDK wouldn’t necessarily put me off but it possibly would lose some of the initial attraction for leisure travellers. Overall I think it could work. I agree with @Sam G above.

  22. I can see the London-Bali flight as a good idea. Although they are probably sacrificing a big chunk of premium pax.
    The return flight will be a connecting flight, so I don’t really see the big deal.

  23. From the local news portals in Indonesian language on CGK-LHR vv route reactivation, the new CEO mentioned that they are trying to achieve better cost structures with this routes by cross subsidy with local partners such travel agent.

    Furthermore, he mentioned an increased percentage of tourist about 9.3 percent from London to Bali as recorded by Indonesian Centra Bureau of Statistics. He wanted to also tap the Australian travellers going to UK.

    So I thought the motivation would be driven by:
    A. tour packages cooperation with local travel agent in UK, so the tourist would enjoy Bali immediately.
    B. Load factor optimisation outward Bali

    But, it’s still weird though

  24. Not weird at all, It’s designed to fit some analysis, It may only be a trial or a way to correct a few things.
    They trying soemthing,

  25. It’s not strange if you put airport runway capacity into consideration. Heathrow’s runway can accommodate fully loaded Boeing 777-300ER, while Denpasar airport runway can’t.
    There are other airlines who operates similar type of airplane, but none fly that long, so their planes will not be fully fueled. Therefore their planes doesn’t took off from Bali at maximum fuel load.

  26. Agree with pak Bagus. For a leisure flyer, being able to fly nonstop LHR-DPS is a win, even with the return being a 1 stop option as no other carrier offer that service. The 77W can and will go on to serve the night departures to NRT/KIX/PEK/PVG and then back to CGK to position for the flight back to LHR. What is strange is the fact that GA had seemingly given up on the premium market (which they invested heavily early on) as no biz flyer would put up with backtracking from DPS to CGK. Interesting to see if GA releases J space to partners on this route. If it does, I think it’s a solid use of Delta SkyMiles miles (80k + tax)

  27. This airlines top management and decision makers are a bunch of unprofessional jokers, and this is pretty evident now in the way they have mishandled or mismanaged the London flights.

    Dont get me wrong here, the cabin crew and ground staff of Garuda are one of the best we have experienced and are the actual saving grace and saving face of this airline.

    We Love Indonesia and Bali in particular, so we always followed and flew Garuda Indonesia right from the time they started out Gatwick-Amsterdam-Jakarta.

    They then moved to Heathrow in March 2016 so we had a schedule change from a morning flight to late evening flight. We still flew with them because it was like we reached Indonesia as we stepped on the plane.

    Somewhere August-September 2016 they then decided to completely cancel flights on Wednesdays and Thursdays out of the precious slots they had at Heathrow thus losing them for ever. We had already booked so still flew with them again in November. (We all know Oman paid $75million for slots and every airline ar Heathrow treat their slot as high value assets, i dont think Garuda see it this way or even understand this)

    Come August 2017 we were notified that our flights in December may get cancelled totally and we have to reroute via Amsterdam, we agreed without having a choice, but then again a month before the flight we got a call informing Heathrow flights are on and we can fly from Heathrow if we consent. Done we accepted this again.

    We booked again with them to travel in November 2018 and yet again they were back to their stunts shifting us to Amsterdam or a refund of tickets saying that flights from Heathrow will shut completely, so put off we were we just gave up and ended up taking a refund100% saving us from sleepless nights and menacing uncertainty

    So now after hearing that they will fly to Bali directly, i dared to look at their website and fell off my bloody chair looking at the prices, suspecting a malfunction i tried to check with expedia and southall travel and as thick-skinned Garuda can be they are selling at fares of £790 for a return ticket when Singapore, Thai, Qatar and others are offering the same dates at the £560-595 range. I’m wondering why and how do they expect we will pay close to £200 extra for a direct flight that too in one direction and only on 3 days a week and after treating their passengers like a bag if trash.

    The British public are not fools – It is very evident and obvious that the top management dont care two hoots about British customers who choose to book and fly with them. It seems they are hell bent to shut the Heathrow flights again for this airline, i mean if they cared even one bit they would have stood up and taken note of their wrongdoings and mishandling and worked towards ensuring taking steps to make this a good and successful flight, instead from what I see they doing everything to ensure that less people fly with them so that they can yet again play this game of book, transfer passengers and cancel flights to London when the flights are not full because of such high fares.

    Our trust has been broken so many times by this airline that we are very certain we are NEVER EVER going to put our money on Garuda ever again.

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