Garuda Indonesia is joining the ranks of those airlines that started life at London Gatwick before defecting to Heathrow.
The carrier will start using its new Heathrow slots in March, reports the Centre For Asia-Pacific Aviation (CAPA).
Details of how Garuda acquired the valuable LHR slots are unavailable at the present time.
Garuda used to fly out of Gatwick many years ago before suspending services (owing to safety restrictions). It only returned to the Sussex airport a couple of years ago.
Furthermore, the airline has abandoned its ambitious European plans in favour of a more modest schedule – it now simply aims to fly nonstop to Jakarta from both London and Amsterdam.
Currently, Garuda serves Gatwick as a “tag” to its Jakarta-Amsterdam flights.
But even here, the scheduling is not straightforward as Garuda is only flying nonstop between Europe and Jakarta (see news, June 11). Some of its Jakarta-Amsterdam flights route via Singapore, rather than nonstop, because of Jakarta’s weak runway.
It remains unclear when the Jakarta runway will be strengthened, which would then enable the Indonesian capital to gain regular nonstop flights to Europe.
Why did Garuda scale back its European plans? Well, it’s rather like the situation at Philippine Airlines, which also returned to Europe after a period of absence but then found the market had changed. It too has axed once ambitious plans.
Twenty and 30 years ago, when Garuda and PAL last served Europe both were major players on the voluminous routes linking Europe with south-east Asia and Australia.
But the market these carriers used to control has shifted. Rival carriers, and especially the Gulf airlines, now handle the bulk of the keenly-priced market which was once the preserve of Garuda and PAL.
It means that PAL now maintains a single route linking London Heathrow with Manila while Garuda operates just the two above-mentioned services.