Garuda’s NATO Route Expansion

Last updated: May 24, 2012
No Action, Talk Only

The many new routes that Garuda plans to fly, one day.

Indonesian national airline, Garuda Indonesia, is part-way through a 5-year plan called “Quantum Leap” where the number of planes, routes and passengers are projected to increase sharply.

Garuda Quantum Leap

The number of planes and passengers are definitely increasing, but as yet Garuda seems to be only interested in only talking about route expansion – with no set timetable as to when flights to these new destinations will actually commence.

Here is a compilation of what Garuda has promised so far this year:

In January, The Jakarta Post reported Garuda Indonesia’s plan to create a regional hub airport in Medan, North Sumatra and commence direct flights between Medan and the following cities:

Garuda's New Flights: Medan to Bali, Surabaya, Makassar, Bandung, Pekanbaru

Please click twice for full size

Denpasar, in Bali province
Surabaya, East Java
Bandung, West Java
Makassar, South Sulawesi
Pekanbaru, Riau

The Medan to Denpasar and Medan to Makassar (a.k.a. Ujung Pandang) routes would be especially useful for tourists, and no other airlines offer these routes. However, as yet there is no date set (provisional or firm) for when these flights will commence.

Earlier this month, Garuda Indonesia also said it would open new routes from Medan, Balikpapan and Makassar… but only after it had started receiving new Bombadier CRJ1000 aircraft. The first one is scheduled to arrive in September 2012.

Garuda flies Jakarta to AmsterdamTo much fanfare, Garuda Indonesia recommenced flights to Amsterdam (capital city of the Netherlands) in 2010. It said it would would also soon begin serving other European cities, such as Paris, Rome, London and Frankfurt. Two years later, this is still yet to happen. In fact, Garuda also recently cut flights to Amsterdam from 7 times/week to 4, citing the poor economic conditions in Europe. In its place, Garuda has instituted a cooperative agreement with its new Skyteam partner, KLM; it allows passengers to fly Garuda from Jakarta to Amsterdam, then transfer to KLM flights to other cities in Europe.

Garuda to Europe via Amsterdam

It would probably be easier for most passengers to just fly all the way with KLM, Lufthansa or a Middle-Eastern airline that flies between Europe and Indonesia.

Garuda to fly from Jakarta to Auckland

During a visit by New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Mr John Key, Garuda also signed an agreement to recommence flights between Jakarta and Auckland, but without even a provisional commencement date.

Garuda Jakarta Taipei flightsGaruda Denpasar to Haneda, TokyoIn 2011, Garuda planned to start three new international routes this year:

Jakarta to Taipei (Taiwan)
Bali to Tokyo Haneda (Japan)
Jakarta to Delhi (India)

The first two recently commenced operations, while the last was dropped without reason. Direct flights to India seem to have the most potential; India has a rapidly expanding aviation market, and (unlike the other two) no airlines currently fly this route non-stop. Without knowing the real reasons, it seems to not make sense. Why doesn’t Garuda operate flights into the world’s 2nd most populous nation? Also, the number of Japanese tourists visiting Bali has fallen for three years in a row, so it seems unusual that Garuda would increase flights.

On a personal note, the Garuda in-flight magazine says Garuda codeshares on China Airlines’ flight between Surabaya and Singapore (a route that Garuda stopped flying themselves in 2009).

Garuda Magazine Flight Map

As a Garuda frequent flyer, I try to fly Garuda at least once a year, else my membership is terminated. However, local travel agents and Garuda’s ticketing office have confirmed that there is no such codeshare on this flight. Misleading information about non-existent codeshare flights certainly takes NATO-ism to a new level.

It remains to be seen where Garuda Indonesia will deploy all the extra aircraft it is going to receive during its 5-year Quantum Leap program. Next year, it may encounter increased competition in the domestic full-service market. Meanwhile economic conditions in many of its prospective long-haul markets (e.g. Europe, USA) are not looking rosy.

Garuda Indonesia raised money to purchase the new aircraft through an IPO in February 2011. Garuda’s new shareholders may become anxious to hear how Garuda is planning to use the new aircraft, and not just “empty words”. Garuda Indonesia’s 2011 financial results were strong, especially when compared to some of their peers in other countries. However, Garuda’s share price is still below its starting price of Rp750 per share; Trans Airways recently purchased a 10.9% stake at Rp620, 20% below what investors paid a year ago.

One Comment on “Garuda’s NATO Route Expansion”

  1. Abhijit Hole says:

    Dear Sir / Madam,

    This is with regards to the direct flight between India and Indonesia.

    Have been reading for last 2/3 years or so that the bilateral agreements are signed, both the governments has no objections in starting a direct flight, The governments are waiting for the airlines to start , direct flight will increase the tourism business..etc..etc.. However there is nothing happening in reality.

    When exactly the direct flight between India and Indonesia is taking off? Kindly let me know if you come across any latest news. Also kindly convey my this message to the concerned authorities.

    Thanks & Best Regards
    Abhijit Hole

    Jakarta, Indonesia

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