Garuda to quit London Gatwick for Heathrow

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.

Alex McWhirter

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  • What I do find interesting is that, for carriers already service LHR, slots seem to be quite tough to get ahold of, whereas new destination entrants (i.e. Garuda serving Jakarta, or PAL serving MNL) seem to have greater ease gaining LHR slots.

  • two questions, could BA shuffle the deck to come up with a daily Jakarta slot (or tag from Singapore, KL or Bangkok) & can a fully laden 787-9 use the runway at Jakarta?

  • I flew from Sydney to NCL via Jakarta and Amsterdam on Sunday 15-11 and can confirm the Jakarta to Amsterdam leg has now NO stop in Singapore – a straight 14 hour non-stop run.The Garuda business class service was excellent by the way – faultless with on-board chef and wonderful new business class lie-flat beds.

  • Hi Globalexport – Glad you enjoyed your Garuda flights. Apologies, I ought to have written “some of” the Jakarta-Amsterdam flights must route via Singapore. The news piece has now been corrected.

    Clearly the day you returned home was one of the days when Garuda is allowed to operate non-stop to Europe.

    Details of the carrier’s scheduling were contained in Online News dated June 11 – see above.

    Here is the link once again:

    As I mentioned above, there is still no definite as to when the Jakarta runway repairs will be completed.

  • Thanks Alex – its a mystery why some stop and some dont – the flight seemed fully loaded.The point you make about them missing the boat is a good one – the market has shifted but with their large home base population and Indondesia’s great potential as tourist destination , it should find its niche .Transfers to and from Australia in Jakarta airport are a bit hit and miss and they have much to learn from SIN,KUL and BKK on that score .

  • To answer AisleSeatTraveller – yes a fully laden anything except a 777-300W can use CGK – the issue is the weight put on the the landing gears is a few tonnes higher than a 747 or a A380 (which is more spread out). This exceeds the weight that Soekarno-Hatta Airport runways can take (doesn’t help that Jakarta is largely sinking!).

    However! This is calculated by an average weight. So over the 5 CGK-AMS flights, 2 stop in Singapore, and 3 run non-stop. Averaging the total take off weight over the 5 flights a week, the weight is fine. (Others can expand on this, but this is what i’ve been advised from those ‘in the know’ locally!).

    Look forward to seeing the flights loaded and the timings – presume they will change. If Garuda get timings / routings right they could do really well – the demand is there and they have an excellent on board service.

    BA have had Jakarta in their sites and have been over to Jakarta a couple of years ago – was reported in local papers they were about to launch out of Heathrow, and then BA 11/12 was re-timed to create perfect timings for a SIN-CGK-SIN add on. But this was just putting 2+2 together to make 5 – as it was then switched to an A380 flight which would be too much metal for an add-on (and no A380 gates available afaik in CGK).

    Anyway, good luck Garuda!

  • I’ve done LGW-CGK four times this year in their excellent Executive Class with another trip booked for January. None of my return flights have re-fuelled in Singapore and the only mention of this I’ve ever seen has been on this website.
    The change to LHR will suit me and a non-stop LHR-CGK would be fantastic but will it ever happen.
    Thanks to Garuda Indonesia for making my travel to/from Indonesia so enjoyable.

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