Garuda Indonesia took delivery of its first A330neo on the weekend. The airline has 14 on order and this one, PK-GHE, was handed over to the airline on Saturday, November 16, 2019. It marks the next step in the Indonesia flag carrier’s evolution as it seeks to expand its medium and long haul services.
What will Garuda do with its new planes?
According to a report in International Flight Network, Garuda Indonesia initially placed an order with Airbus for seven A330-300s but swapped them over to the A330neos in 2016. It also added an extra seven planes to the USD$4 billion order.
Simple Flying’s Tom Boon has reported that the airline wants to use the plane to fly between Denpasar and London. The service would operate via Kualanamu in Medan. Garuda’s flights Europe have, to be honest, been all over the shop in the last few years. A search of the airline’s website shows an A330-200 operating the service in mid-December 2019, mid-January 2020, and mid-February. So if you are looking to scoot down to Bali anytime soon from London don’t assume it will be on the A330neo.
But then again, it’s Garuda Indonesia and their London service. There could be a whole new scenario tomorrow.
A good airline when they get their act together
Which is a shame because the new A330neo looks like a beautiful bird to fly on. Whilst not perfect, Garuda Indonesia has improved markedly in the last decade and their hard product is gaining a solid reputation. They also are known for price busting premium cabin fares (and decent premium cabins). The downside is some of their long haul flights can be a bit of a milk run and there can be substantial transit times at Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta Airport – nobody’s favorite place in the world.
Garuda’s medium and long haul fleet is comprised of A330-200s, A330-300s, and Boeing 777-300ERs. The airline primarily flies around Asia, but also to Australia, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the Netherlands. When the deal for the aircraft was done, Garuda’s CEO, Arif Wibowo said;
“Both Garuda Indonesia and Airbus fully understand the aim of the deal as a long term strategy is to win the global challenge.
The A330neo represents a more-efficient future for Garuda Indonesia. This order restructuring is believed to support our continued commitment to deliver the most modern, comfortable and excellent air travel service to all customers as well as to strengthen the sustained positive growth and business expansion of the company.”
Mr Wibowo said the A330neos would help Garuda compete better in the industry. At the time, Airbus noted the A330neos with their lower fuel consumption, lower maintenance costs, and extended range would help Garuda develop its medium and long haul networks.
Hard to predict the future
The remainder of the A330neos on order are expected to be delivered to Garuda Indonesia over the next couple of years. What the airline does with them will be interesting to watch. Garuda’s widebody fleet is starting to age so to an extent, the A330neos will simply serve as replacement aircraft.
But Garuda does want to expand. The problem, I guess, is that Garuda has a long and fabled history of starting services to a new destination, not succeeding on the route, and withdrawing. Will the A330neo simply let Garuda repeat history or will they help the airline break the hex?
Simple Flying has approached Garuda Indonesia for a comment about their new A330neo but has not heard back prior to publication.