Garuda Indonesia Is Suspending Flights To London

Indonesian flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has had an interesting history with their London flights:

  • 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.
The various combinations of Garuda Indonesia’s London flights over the years

While the flight is the only non-stop flight between these two cities, I understand a large number of passengers continue on to Bali, which is a very popular Indonesian tourist destination.

Airline Route has just announced that Garuda Indonesia has closed reservations for flights to and from London Heathrow from October 28, 2018. This leaves Amsterdam, the home of their SkyTeam partner KLM, as Garuda’s only European destination.

The airline has not yet advised if this is a permanent suspension/cancellation of the route, or if the route will become seasonal (i.e. recommence for the northern hemisphere summer). There are various rumours on FlyerTalk, that the flight will be restructured as a triangular flight to include Bali — i.e. one direction will be direct to or from Jakarta to London, the other will be to or from Bali.

Bottom line

I’d still love to fly Garuda, as their hard and especially soft products have improved out of sight. But it is becoming harder to do so long-haul, as they reduce their network.

I’ll be interested to see what Garuda does with their valuable Heathrow landing slot, as they are required to either ‘use it or lose it.’

Assuming they own the slot pair outright (does anyone know?), they may either sell it if they do not plan to recommence the route, or lease it for the short-term if they make the route seasonal. Their current Heathrow slot lands and departs in the evenings, so would not be as valuable as those morning landing slots we have seen sell for tens of million of pounds.

British Airways has been slowly increasing into Southeast Asia (beyond the obvious destinations like Singapore), as they now fly to both Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. If there are no direct flights between the two cities I wonder if British Airways will see the opportunity to potentially commence this route (or else fly direct to Bali).

Would you fly Garuda Indonesia? Do you think this suspension will be seasonal, or permanent?

Comments

  1. I’ve also read that GA is switching their CGK-AMS flight to a two-class plane (though there are rumors that they may start flying to CDG.) Does this mean the end of their first class experience?

  2. It’s really weird why London is still the center of the world. UK is not a strong country in any sense of the word and given their history everyone should hate the British or at best have very neutral feelings towards them.

    Yet, everyone flies to London. Weird.

  3. @Tom: CGK-AMS have been 2-class for some time now. Only 3-class routes are CGK-LHR & DPS-NRT. If they terminate LHR, they might deploy LAX or CDG flights in accordance with the rumours heard locally.

    @Jarvis Marcos: first of all, love your work. Second, call the airline. I’ve been trying to book November flights for the longest time, to no avail. You might be rebooked on SQ if you’re flying F

  4. Debit — how old are you? 12?

    Yes, the UK isn’t the industrial and scientific powerhouse it once was.

    Yes, the UK invaded every piece of land sunlight touches, and used the nastiest, cowardly ways to weaken their enemies (the Spanish empire comes to mind).

    However it’s been 200 years since that. We must not forget history, we should learn from it. But that doesn’t mean you should hold a grudge against people who have been dead for ages. Rather you should appreciate the many things the British left where they went, like their language and more importantly the spirit of commerce and free trade.

    And London still is one of the financial capitals of the world. While it’s true that it may be a “prestige” destination, many airlines want to fly there because their passengers need to get to London. It’s a business destination like few in the world.

  5. Regular First class passenger here (paid tickets) It’s a pity Garuda took this decision as their service and crew are excellent.

  6. Had the chance to interview Garuda CEO recently for prestige magazine Indonesia . Asked about LAX , and they have no plans to , when asked . Financially would not be viable . As for CDG under consideration but don’t think anything will happen . Think the strategy for GA is to cut the losses and bring the airline back o the black. Which means starting long haul routes to Europe or North America unlikely. Expect more expansion to China and the region . They have stopped CGK- Mumbai B738 service and started flying DPS- Mumbai now with A330. So regional and domestic expansion is to be expected .

  7. BA would be such downgrade from such a spectacular product on this route – never flown it in first (only flown it in economy between LGW and AMS – was pretty great!) but would have loved to and know most people who have flown GA to have been incredibly pleased, not least because of the crew. Better than the entitled Surly Sandra’s of BA…

  8. This was stated in the comments here back in July (https://onemileatatime.com/garuda-indonesia-is-offering-50-off-award-tickets-including-first-class/). Booking after 28th October has not been possible for a few months now, discussed in https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/other-asian-australian-south-pacific-airlines/1912387-garuda-london-jakarta-zero-d-out-gds-w18-19-a.html.

    Have Garuda themselves stated the route is closed (maybe only for the northern hemisphere Winter)? Their London sales office just say that GA are not cancelling but instead rescheduling?

    James, this is not new information.

  9. The route is very leisure oriented (with many continuing to Bali etc) meaning rather low yields. That has always been the problem sustaining this very long haul route. Same why Malaysian Airlines can’t get a profit out of their LHR-KUL route.

    Garuda also couldn’t get connections that were attractive enough for passengers flying to Australia.

  10. I’m hoping for Garuda to do CDG to LAX nonstop. They can do it with a sparsely configured 787 like Qantas’ (CDK-LAX is 24 miles shorter than PER-LHR) or an a350ULR.

  11. @ Stuart – the official announcement of the route suspension was brought to my attention yesterday during my daily browsing of AirlineRoute that I’ve quoted. I read all the comments on the articles that I write but I’m not able to read every comment on Ben and others articles – there are thousands of comments a week.

  12. According to the local news, there is a pressure from the government to close CGK-LHR route since they are not making money. As @Ronald pointed out, their book still in red. Government has been injecting money so big pressure for them to review and analyze routes that make profit. The government however still wants a direct flight to Europe, it seems CDG still in horizon. If that happen will be 2019 the soonest. LAX? It will not going to happen in the next few years.

  13. IIRC, today, only two of the ten GA 777-300ERs (PK-GIF and PK-GIG) contain First Class, which means Garuda First Class is on its last legs. This is a horrible shame for an airline which warmed its way into your heart where even the mighty Singapore has been hit-or-miss. The crew are hands down the most sincere and kindest of any airline in the world.

    @Gabriel: For a Chinese/Asian airline, the go-to destination is Los Angeles; for an African airline, it is New York City; for every other airline, it is London. Specifically LHR for its impossible-to-get slots.

  14. @Ray many thanks for the kind words and advice!

    OFFICIAL WORD: Garuda head office hasn’t told the London office exactly what is going on, all that they know is that the winter LHR-CGK schedule is currently down and head office needs to re-confirm the slots by August 31st.

    Until then we will have to wait, for confirmation of the cancellation and the consequent re-bookings.

  15. @debit @ Gabriel not forgetting London is a great cultural and educational centre. Oxford and Cambridge are close by.
    It is one of the most diverse open and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

    Garuda and KLM can feed traffic from the UK via Amsterdam. The London flight probably was not viable
    It would be great of Garuda opearated from Jakarta via Manila to Los Angeles, rather than via Tokyo which is saturated

    There’s pleanty of traffic from LA to the Philippines, however it depends on agreements

  16. Hope the AMS-CGK doesn’t go away (and maybe swap the three class jet into there?) ….. have only flown in J, but a wonderful experience!

  17. @Debit
    Considering that the one of the busiest transcon routes for Europe is JFK-LHR, it shows the importance of London as one of the largest financial center along with New York. Not sure about leisure flights though. But there is a lot of business travelers in that route, and business travelers pay premium, making this one of the most profitable route too. No, I’m not British 😛

  18. @pmv I can assure you CGK-AMS won’t go away. In fact, later this year it will be nonstop both ways. No more layovers via SIN on certain days. I’ve also tried to book some dates for next month in J, with only 1-4 seats available. Safe to assume this route won’t go away anytime soon

  19. Maybe fewer foreigners are going to Indonesia? That wouldn’t surprise as the country drifts further into fundamentalism: just this week an Indonesian woman ( ethnic Chinese) was thrown in jail for complaining ( as in mentioning to a neighbour) that the local mosque made too much noise ( ie, by having long sermons broadcast over loud speakers); while at the other end of the country, kindergarten children were paraded wearing hijabs and carrying cut-out AK47s.
    Having a nice F class is one thing; getting tourists to visit is something else again.
    It’s a pity ; most Indonesians are lovely and not at all like the nutty fanatics who are exercising some control.

  20. @Endre, thank you for reminding us that you are a regular first class flyer (paid, not miles). I’d almost forgotten.

  21. VT-CIE, JFK to Africa? I don’t see any direct flight other than Johannesburg , Casablanca , Cairo . I think you are thinking about south america? But even that there is not a whole lot direct flights. For Africa, the most logic destination is who ever was their colonial master country. There are usually a lot of economic and immigration connection.

    CGK-AMS should stay for the same reason as Holland was the colonial master of Indonesia

  22. James BA have been operating into Bangkok for years. Quick search on a.net shows L1011s going back to 1988. Only new SE asia desitnation for them lately has been KL.

  23. What happen with booking in February ? I have biz class LONDON – JAKARTA … will be canceled?? Or will they reebook me ?

  24. Yes. London has managed to stay relevant because of its openness, cosmopolitan values, culture, education. Liberal values you would say. And the British travel a lot.

  25. Oh Debit hooray! Finally I have a genuine reason to say go *bleep* yourself! You can fill in the blank with a good old bit of Anglo-Saxon.

  26. I have honestly never seen anyone with a bigger h*rdon for the left than Debit. He can’t go one single post without turning every single article political. NOT ONE. It’s beyond pathetic.

  27. @Debit (Credit). Long time reader, first time commenter. It’s time for you to put yourself to bed and stop reading this fantastic blog. Everybody is bored of you.

  28. I’m a Londoner and a Brit. Hate London – many of us do. However, London continues to be a financial capital and more so even then NYC based on many financial institutions and surveys. Given simply, more money is transferred between NA and the rest of the world through London than anywhere else.

  29. As I have not read every comment I’m sorry if someone else made this point already but what about rerouting CGK-AMS-LHR-AMS-CGK or CGK-LHR-AMS-CGK? Flights between Amsterdam and London are mostly booked to capacity all the time. I use this route monthly and having a third option between Amsterdam and London around the time slot Garuda has at Heathrow would be great.

  30. Debit actually raises a good question. Of the Top 10 routes which generated the most revenue last year, 6 are international (the others are routes like Sydney-Brisbane).

    Of the 6 international routes, no less than 5 are to/from LHR.

    The US has just one of those international routes, from JFK. To LHR.

    It might be related to Britain’s imperial past; just like a spectacularly wealthy family which is past its best, the capital they accumulated earlier gives them a lot of assets compared to the rest of us. That wealth hangs around for generations. Britain’s cultural capital is huge (much of it the gains of empire, either directly or indirectly), and in some financial services it dwarfs anywhere else (have a look at how much foreign exchange is traded in London, compared to anywhere else. London is also a hugely successful money-laundering centre while pretending to be all probity and professionalism. If you launder your money through there you won’t be ripped-off – all the charges will be up-front…).

  31. BKK and KUL is a re-introduction of service for BA, as would Jarkata

    btw – the history of Jarkata is pretty amazing, and as a city today its absolutely massive, skyscrapers everywhere. An interesting place

  32. I would love BA to fly either direct to Bali or with an extension from one of their existing routes. I love going there and would love to be able to collect points consistently even though BA are my airline of last resort. Have been to Bali with Cathay Pacific, Qatar and Emirates. It really is a fantastic destination

  33. Very simple the reason London is number one is because of the financial sector, this creates a lot of business class traffic. We would like to thank the American governments and courts for creating such a hostel environment to business meaning many prefer to operate out of london.

  34. First time I ever flew from uk to au where I now live was on Garuda. OMG, mid 90s 747, multi stop via lots of Europe, Asia and Australia into BNE. An “ experience “ I’ll never forget. Makes a one stop from BNE to MAN a piece of cake now

  35. It’s interesting how hardly anyone here talks about Skyteam and the value of Amsterdam as a Skyteam hub. Guys and girls: in addition to some of your valuable considerations and remarks, it also makes sense for Garuda to have other Skyteam members feed into Amsterdam and from there filling the GA service to Jakarta. If GA intends to use Amsterdam as it’s European hub, that would make a lot of sense in their cash struck times. The Netherlands has very strong interest in Indonesia both for business and tourism. There is a reason why also KLM flies to both Jakarta AND Bali from here.

  36. Help Guys and Girls !

    I have just received the Garuda Email – My Business class RTN flight from LHR to Bali on 24 Nov has been cancelled and my new ticket is from Amsterdam to Bali. (I Live in the Highlands of Scotland) so had booked flights down to LHR from Inverness etc. I called Garuda in Indonesia today (no help at all – said I had to GO to customer services in London. Tried calling Garuda in London – Recorded message .. lines busy etc then after 5mins it hangs up). How do I stand ? How do I get to Amsterdam – will they pay ?? for a flight from either LHR to AMS or Inverness to AMS ? – Any help or advice appreciated. Thanks

  37. @ Phil – Garuda are obliged to get you to your final destination. They should put you on KLM for the final AMS-LHR segment. I suggest keep pushing.

  38. I was booked to fly Heathrow Jakarta Bangkok on Christmas day with Garuda in business Class. My travel agent has confirmed that Garuda will not be operating this service and instead offered a Heathrow Amsterdam Jakarta Bangkok as the alternative. The departure from Heathrow has been brought forward to Christmas eve at 6.30am so that it can feed in with the Garuda service departing Schiphol at 11am. It’s a longer flight than I had planned, but Garuda still offers excellent value for money when compared to European carriers, especially in business class. The return flight from Bangkok departs a day later than my original scheduled return.

  39. @James
    Thanks James – Have emailed AND faxed details and sent alternative flight suggestions.

    From research it looks like all …call centre / online chat / email / staff haven’t been told what to do, instead they just pass you to one another.

    I have had standard email response at the moment –

    “Thank you for your email.We will be reprotecting passengers from/to London.
    We are receiving a large amount of telephone calls and emails so please bear with us and we will respond to your email as quickly as we possibly can.”

    I don’t think I need “reprotecting” but we will see what happens.

    My dilemma is this is holiday for me and Mrs P, long planned surprise for her and our 15 year wedding anniversary. Saved up for Business Class, saved up for a really nice hotel. I am not that well off, so this would be our first time business class.

    I am not really sure what to do ?

    Any help at all from yourself James and the forum would be great as this is a real stress at the moment.

  40. Does anyone know what the rights are for those who have been bumped off the cancelled flights from Jakarta to London and are now being dumped in Amsterdam instead? (With no mention of how we are supposed to get back to London!!?)

    A refund does not seem adequate when you consider: there are no other direct London flights from other carriers; going via Amsterdam will extend our journey by approximately 3 hours; we will get to London probably 12 hours after we intended; we specifically wanted a day flight and are now on an overnight flight; we will have to extend our hotel time in Jakarta for half a day or be homeless after checkout time and of course, the additional travel costs to get back from Amsterdam!!

    We have incurred other costs for the trip already so even a full cancellation of the entire trip will cost us money. They have left us high and dry!!! Not impressed Garuda!

    To add insult to injury; they are making us call the Jakarta office to reschedule / refund rather than getting their London office to manage it!

  41. @James –

    Thanks for your advice – all sorted now after finally getting through to London office.

    I was pre-armed with alternative flights – (Either INV to AMS on KLM city hopper – this was refused. Then Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong, or Singapore Airlines via SNG – this was full in Business)

    They allowed Return LHR – HKG – BALI on Cathay Pacific – Much better flight times and it allows me to catch the plane from Heathrow after my flight down from Inverness.

    To anyone in same situation – Ignore the recorded message when you call London office. It took me about 20 mins to get through. Pre search your own alternative flights and tell them what you would prefer.

    Hope everyone gets sorted.

  42. According to a source, Garuda will infact be keeping the London Heathrow departure slot, with a slated LHR-DPS direct flight (unsure of the return leg due to runway length and strength at DPS) or a flight from LHR-BOM onwards to DPS, this would be operated as a 5th freedom. They have less than two weeks to submit the relevant plans and documents !

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