Garuda Indonesia withdraws from Kangaroo route after many trials and tribulations

Garuda is withdrawing from the highly competitive Australia-UK market as it suspends services to London Heathrow.


Summary

  • Garuda will no longer compete on the kangaroo route from Australia to London after deciding to suspend its Jakarta-Heathrow service;
  • Garuda at one point had big aspirations for the kangaroo route and had planned to operate a same plane one-stop service from Sydney to London using 777-300ERs;
  • Garuda never implemented the one-stop plan for Sydney-London but has been offering a relatively quick one-stop product in the Melbourne-London market since late 2017.

Garuda recently announced plans to drop its Jakarta-London Heathrow service from 28-Oct-2018. Garuda has served London since 2014 but has only operated nonstop flights from Jakarta since Oct-2017.

Garuda also has been competing in the Melbourne-London market since Oct-2017, offering at times very attractive fares. Garuda retimed some of its Melbourne-Jakarta flights after launching nonstop Jakarta-London flights in order to facilitate connections.

See related report: Garuda promotes Melbourne-London connections after rescheduling flights

Garuda currently has one of the fastest transit times from Melbourne to London at 22hr55mins with only a 55min layover in Jakarta. From London to Melbourne the total transit time is a competitive 23hr50mins, including a 3hr5min layover in Jakarta.

After retiming Melbourne, Garuda also considered retiming Sydney-Jakarta to facilitate Sydney-London Heathrow connections. However, none of its Sydney-Jakarta flights have been retimed yet and this is now moot given the upcoming suspension of Jakarta-London.

At one point four years ago, Garuda sold a one-stop same plane service from Sydney to London Gatwick using 777-300ERs. Garuda began offered this option in early Apr-2013, providing an attractive economy, business and first class product on brand new aircraft, with a very competitive total transit time, for five weekly flights beginning 2-Nov-2013. However, in late Jul-2013 (almost four months after starting sales and just over two months prior to launch) Garuda postponed the launch of London, refunding and rebooking all passengers.

In early Nov-2013 Garuda reopened sales for Jakarta-London Gatwick, along with one-stop connections from Australia, with a revised launch date of 29-May-2014. However, in Mar-2014 the launch of London was once again postponed and passengers were refunded or rebooked.

Garuda finally launched services to Gatwick on 4-Sep-2014 but only after dropping the initial nonstop Jakarta-Gatwick plan and instead serving Gatwick as a tag to its Jakarta-Amsterdam service. Garuda did not end up competing on the kangaroo route because the tag with Amsterdam meant Garuda could only offer a two stop product for Australia-London passengers – and with long layovers in Jakarta.

In late Mar-2016 Garuda dropped the Amsterdam-Gatwick tag and launched a new five times weekly service to London Heathrow. However, the new Heathrow flight stopped in Singapore on the westbound leg, resulting in a two-stop product for Australia-London passengers (again with long layovers in Jakarta).

It was not until late Oct-2017, when the Singapore stop was dropped, that Garuda finally was able to offer the product on the Kangaroo route it had long intended to provide. However, Garuda has only been operating three weekly flights on the nonstop Jakarta-Heathrow route. As almost all airlines on the kangaroo route have a daily service (and several have multiple daily flights), Garuda struggled to compete.

Garuda also only offered short layovers in Jakarta from Melbourne. If it had implemented earlier plans for retiming some Sydney-Jakarta and Perth-Jakarta flights Garuda would have been able to attract more Australia-London traffic.

However, Garuda’s kangaroo route aspirations were always unrealistic. The kangaroo route from Australia to London is extremely competitive. Garuda is better off focusing on the local Australia-Indonesia market, which has been growing. Garuda’s strength (and USP) is offering passengers heading to/from Australia domestic connections in Indonesia, using both the Bali and Jakarta hubs.

For a comprehensive analysis on Garuda’s suspension of London see the following report published by our sister publication CAPA – Centre for Aviation: SE Asia-London market: Garuda Indonesia learns a difficult lesson