It’s been a long time coming but passengers traveling between Jakarta and London will finally be able to make the trip non-stop after Garuda Indonesia announced a new route to London Gatwick. The route will be served six times per week by the carrier’s B777 aircraft, which will be equipped with Wi-Fi and a chef on board for passengers traveling in first class. The inaugural flight is slated for the fourth quarter of 2013.
It will be a significant boost to tourism ties between Indonesia and the UK Recent data show around 160,000 UK citizens visiting Indonesia each year, and it is widely expected that the more convenient route, combined with continued Indonesian economic growth, will see that figure rise significantly.
Garuda also intends to launch new flights to Auckland and Brisbane this year, while a U.S. destination (probably Los Angeles) is understood to be in the pipeline for the medium term. The new destinations are instructive of an airline that has come a long way in the last few years—four years ago it was still banned from flying to the European Union because of dismal safety standards.
Since then, its five-year “Quantum Leap” investment program has brought in major new Airbus, Boeing, and Bombardier aircraft, while its marketing department has engineered a three-year partnership with English Premier League side Liverpool FC, which, like Garuda, is enjoying something of a renaissance.
Today Garuda operates a service to Amsterdam via Abu Dhabi, and has launched key tie-ups with leading airlines including Etihad. By the time the Quantum Leap program ends in 2015, Garuda’s route map will have expanded considerably. It is also expected to be officially welcomed into the Skyteam alliance some time in 2014.