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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