Garuda Indonesia Cuts London Route Again

Garuda Indonesia has a strange, will they, won’t they, relationship with their direct Jakarta to London flights. One moment they are flying a full Boeing 777 all the way, the next they are shutting down the route entirely. And this time it looks like Garuda is cutting the route for good, as well as greatly reducing their other European frequencies, as reported by One Mile At A Time.

Garuda Indonesia
Garuda Indonesia suspends the London route. Photo: Wikimedia

Passengers looking to fly between London and Jakarta (a very popular route), will have to find their way on a different carrier.

History of the Garuda Indonesia London flight

Before we dive into this latest shut down, let us have a look at the history of the route so far.

  • In 2014, Garuda Indonesia operated a fifth freedom route, via Amsterdam, to London Gatwick.
  • In 2015, Garuda Indonesia managed to secure a landing slot at Heathrow (which is really hard to come by) and switched services to that airport.
  • Because the runway at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport was not strong enough to supported a fully fueled Boeing 777, they had to fly via Singapore both ways. They eventually started flying direct from London but still had the stopover back to Europe.
  • One Mile At A Time reported that they cut the route in October 2018.
  • Only to reopen the route in November 2018, with an A330 instead of the Boeing 777
  • Then they decided to fly via Bali, on a London – Bali – Jakarta – London route
  • And now they are reducing and canceling services to Europe

Specifically, the changes are:

  • Garuda Indonesia will no longer fly to London
  • They will also reduce frequencies to Amsterdam from six times a week to three times a week. This will now be the only route to Europe on Garuda.
Garuda Indonesia is playing hot potato with their London routes. Photo: Wikimedia

Why is Garuda Indonesia canceling the route?

It doesn’t really make sense why the national carrier of Indonesia, Garuda Indonesia, is struggling to make this route work. Both London and Jakarta have huge populations, with plenty of people wanting to travel between the two.

Now, this next part is pure speculation, but it looks like Garuda keeps making mistakes when trying to get this route to perform.

  • They put an Airbus A330 on the route, which is easier to fill up and make profitable, didn’t have first class nor have the capacity to really compete with other carriers
  • They also keep flying from Singapore or Amsterdam. Why travel through another airport and push people to seek out a direct route? (As Qantas has discovered, passengers will pay a premium to fly direct as possible.
  • Lastly, they have not been running the route long enough to really build up customer momentum. They can’t keep canceling or shifting the route around and expect it to perform just as well as a legacy route running for the last 10 years.
Garuda Indonesia Cuts London Route Again
Garuda Indonesia A330. Source: Airbus

It is understood that Garuda Indonesia will reposition the aircraft on their Tokyo and other Japanese routes.

Overall, we will have to see how this performs for the airline.

What do you think? Should they provide a direct route between Jakarta and Indonesia?