Garuda poised to serve Europe

17 Mar 2010 by BusinessTraveller

Indonesia’s national airline Garuda is set to return to Amsterdam on June 1 with a daily service from Jakarta and Dubai.  

The route will be operated by a wide-bodied A330. Between Jakarta and Amsterdam it will make an enroute stop in Dubai.

It is six years since Garuda last served Europe after failing European safety standards (see online news, October 19, 2009) but it is understood that these have now been lifted.

One-stop flight GA88 will depart Jakarta at 2110 to arrive in Amsterdam the next morning at 0800. It will return (on June 2) as one-stop GA89, departing Amsterdam at 1100 and reaching Jakarta the next day at 0755.

Although flight details and prices are not yet published on Garuda’s website the schedule details are posted on airline booking system Amadeus.

The A330 will be configured with 36 business and 186 economy class seats. It is not clear whether the accommodation in business class will be fully lie-flat beds or angled lie-flat seating.

Next year the product offering on the route will be upgraded when Garuda starts taking delivery of 10 Boeing 777-300ERs which will operate in a three class (first, business and economy) layout.  The idea is that, besides serving Amsterdam, these B777s will be used to inaugurate service to other European cities.

When Garuda last served the UK and mainland Europe it was famed for its pricing. Its tickets were usually the cheapest in the market and, besides Indonesia, it was a popular airline for travellers seeking a bargain route to Australia. UK agents would package Garuda tickets out of Amsterdam with KLM connections from London and the UK regions.

As an airline seeking to re-establish itself in Europe it would seem that the carrier will market itself in the same way.

Garuda faces fierce competition between Amsterdam and Jakarta. Besides KLM (one of the very few European carriers serving Indonesia) it will be up against Asian carriers like MAS and SIA (who both offer convenient connections via KL and Singapore) along with Emirates (whose services neatly link in Dubai).

But Jakarta is not the only important destination. Garuda will also be serving Dubai out of Amsterdam and its arrival on this busy route could prompt a wave of price cutting.

Consider that the number of Amsterdam-Dubai services being operated this summer are almost triple those flown in summer 2009.  

Last summer Dutch airline KLM had a monopoly on the Dubai route and it operated 10 flights a week. According to the summer 2010 timetable published on Amadeus, KLM will field 13 flights a week and there will be a further seven flights a week operated by Emirates (a newcomer on the route) plus Garuda’s daily service.

All told by next June there will be 27 flights a week plying between Amsterdam and Dubai as against 10 in June of last year.

All this is good news for passengers (because ticket prices will fall) but can this capacity glut be sustainable in the long term ?  

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Report by Alex McWhirter and Margie Logarta

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