Why Garuda grounded plans for Airbus A380, Boeing 747-8

By David Flynn, March 25 2014

Garuda Indonesia says that the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8 are ‘off our roadmap because of economic reasons’ as the airline leans towards fuel-efficient twin-engine jets like the Boeing 777X, Boeing 787 and Airbus A350.

In July 2013 Garuda CEO Emirsyah Satar said the Indonesian flag-carrier expected to place an order for either the A380 or Boeing 747-8I by year’s end, with Star telling Australian Business Traveller “we are looking at both aircraft now to see which is more efficient for us."

At the time Garuda was considering a ‘convertible’ version of both aircraft in which the business class seats could be quickly swapped out for more economy seats.

The standard two-class configuration would be used to ferry Muslims from Jakarta to Saudi Arabia during the annual Hajj and Umrah religious pilgrimages.

After a two-week transformation to an all-economy layout, which would boast a maximum capacity as high as 850 seats in the A380 superjumbo, Satar said the the converted aircraft would “fly to the Middle East and also the growing market in China and Japan” during the off-peak travel seasons outside Hajj and Umrah.

Govt support did not eventuate

However, on the sidelines of a press conference earlier this month marking Garuda’s entry into the SkyTeam alliance, Satar revealed that the airline had ruled out the big four-engine birds on economic grounds.

“At the time that the Government, the Ministry of Religious Affairs, would jointly support Garuda (in purchasing the aircraft) but this has not materialised” Satar told Australian Business Traveller.

The crux of the arrangement was the feasibility of flying the aircraft outside of the peak religious season, even in their all-economy configuration.

“The issue is basically what do we do with those seven months” Satar admitted. “We were not comfortable in terms of trying to maximise four-engine aircraft because of economic reasons, and because of that we did not finalise the A380 or Boeing 747 order.”

'Big twins' for the win

As Australian Business Traveller reported earlier this month, Satar has now set his sights on big twinjets – the Boeing 787, Airbus A350 and Boeing 777X – for the next generation of Garuda’s international fleet and expects to place a “substantial” order by the end of of this year.

“We are looking at the Dreamliner compared to the (Airbus) A350, and we are looking at the A350-1000 compared to the Boeing 777X” Satar revealed, adding that the airline would make its decision “this year” and the order numbers would be “quite substantial.”

Garuda’s fleet is slated to reach 194 aircraft by 2015, and Satar predicted total aircraft orders of more than 200 in the next 10 years if the airline meets its growth targets.

“We want to maintain a five year average (age)” Satar explained. “If there is no growth, just for 194 aircraft in the next ten years I need to order 100 (new aircraft) to replace  and maintain that average.”

“But if we are talking growth it’s at least double that, at least 200 in the next ten years.”

Garuda’s biggest bird to date is the Boeing 777-300ER, with four currently in the fleet “and three more coming later this year, starting June” Satar said.

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David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 286

Not too surprising since they have ditched direct London flights. 

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 544

They still have direct Amsterdam flights...

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 286

They do indeed. However London airports are more congested, hence the economics of the A380 make more sense. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

If the CGK runway couldn't support a fully loaded B77W I think we can pretty much rule out an A380 or B748.

20 Oct 2011

Total posts 77

The 77W actually has a harsher footprint than the quads. It may be a little lighter but that weight is spread over fewer tyres than the bigger birds so the 77W finds itself limited in places the A380 doesn't.

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

777 is economically “best fit” for them as for plenty of other carriers. BA flights 777 LHR-SIN-SYD, so it will do direct flight to London for Garuda. Interesting what 350 will do. But despite all of this I like 747 and I am not happy that 747-8 not that widely accepted. Among big guys only Lufthansa use them and even than they plan to retire them in favor of 380. Such a shame.

And just out of curiosity – 777 is most successful wide body long range aircraft. Why Qantas does not use it?

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 515

Quite simple actually. The earlier models of the 777 did not have the range for flights to the US or Europe and were too big for regional and domestic flying.

The longer range 777's have come since Qantas made the decision to go 747-400ER and A380 for long haul, a fact that many seem to forget. Regionally the A330 is the better sized aircraft, though 787 is also in this class but only available now, not 10 years ago when Qantas got their first A330's. 

Now I know many will disagree about the A330 being the right size and they will say look at all the asian airlines that fly 777's. But when you really look at it on flights to Australia from Asia the A330 seems to be the most common type.

In fact just yesterday I flew Garuda from MEL to CGK and in Melbourne almost all the flights heading to Asia were A330's, including the Garuda a/c I was on. At the time there were 3 GA A330's (one sitting on thr ground for some reason), Cathay and Qantas A330's to Hong Kong, 3 or 4 A330's from Chinese airlines heading to China, plus a lone 787 heading to India. The only 777's were VA presumably heading to someone outside of Asia and an SQ 777-300 sitting on a taxiway.

Then on arrival on CGK again the most common wide body a/c was the A330.

15 Dec 2013

Total posts 43

Garuda is a joke.

Mal
Mal

14 Jun 2013

Total posts 360

Thank you for sharing such insightful analysis, bryce05. Garuda must be a joke, because you said so.

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 544

Anyone who says Garuda (or any other airline) is a joke is a joke.

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 515

Flew them yesterday and would have to strongly disagree.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Mar 2013

Total posts 66

I like your considered piece AJ finally a voice of reason (re Qantas fleet structure and the reasoning behind it) I also agree my experience with the Garuda product has been excellent.


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