UPDATE | Garuda has abandoned plans for a direct Jakarta-London Boeing 777-300ER service in favour of non-stop flights from Jakarta to Amsterdam, which are scheduled to commence on May 30. Click here for more details.
PREVIOUS | Garuda Indonesia plans to launch direct flights between Jakarta and Amsterdam shortly after its new Jakarta-London service takes wing in May this year, giving Qantas another competitor for carrying Australians to European.
London and Amsterdam will spearhead Garuda's return to Europe almost seven years after the airline was banned from European air space when EU air safety experts deemed the airline to be unsafe.
Garuda Indonesia CEO Emirsyah Satar revealed the new Amsterdam route to journalists at a press briefing in Bali, adding that the Amsterdam flights would begin “at the end of May.”
Like its London sister route, which is slated for a May 28 inaugural, Amsterdam will rely on one of Garuda’s Boeing 777-300ER jets featuring the airline's new first class cabin.
Garuda’s currently has four of Boeing’s biggest twin-jet in the fleet “and three more coming later this year, starting June” Satar added.
The London service will be the second leg of Garuda’s ‘kangaroo route’ which will fly travellers from Sydney to Jakarta, also on a Boeing 777-300ER, and then on to London – although the aircraft will land at Gatwick airport rather than Heathrow.
However, Satar says the timing of the London flight will change from its previously promoted schedule.
“Right now we have not finalised (the timetable) because of slot issues, because of the congestion in London” Satar said, “but our objective is to have connection of less than 2-3 hours.”
Satar said the revised schedule would likely be announced “in one to two weeks”.
Garuda intended its London flights to begin on November 2 last year, until the airline discovered that the runway and apron at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta Airport were not strong enough to carry the Boeing 777 with a full load of passengers, cargo and fuel sufficient for the 7,300 mile flight.
Upgrade work on the runway and apron are scheduled for completion in May, and Garuda will be going all out for its share of the Australian market – especially premium travellers who book into business and first class.
Garuda's entry into the SkyTeam alliance this week could also increase the airline's local appeal.
David Flynn travelled to Bali for the Garuda-SkyTeam media event as a guest of Garuda Indonesia
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