Garuda Indonesia unveiled their expansion plans at the Arabian Travel Market this week aptly called their ‘Quantum Leap’ program. They plan on increasing their fleet size more than twice fold by 2015 to a staggering 194 aircraft.

Garuda has had a checkered past. Back in 2009 the airline, along with other Indonesian carriers, were banned from flying to the EU for fears on safety. However, they have regrouped and brought themselves back with ever increasing improvements across the board, from safety, to cabin product and now fleet expansion.

Most people probably wouldn’t realise the airline has been running since 1949, making it a strong heritage airline in Asia, not many airlines having the same age and experience behind them. Now joining SkyTeam in early 2013 they have strengthened their position offering a vital link in South East Asia and across the pacific.

Whilst I have noticed them in the past few years, I hadn’t researched into them with great depth until the announcement of this fleet expansion, as they are establishing themselves as a major international player. Taking a look at their products, I have to say I’m impressed. It’s no wonder they are constantly winning awards and have been awarded a 4-star rating by SkyTrax.

The new livery is smart, clean and still speaks to their historical look and feel. It does fall into the ‘white fuselage – bright tail’ bin though, a look that a lot of airlines are now adopting (that said, at least the logo doesn’t just stop at the tail and continues on to the aircraft belly). Which is a little sad, as I do like airlines that understand a livery isn’t just a logo on a billboard. That said, it’s modern, fresh and looks like an international brand.

The uniforms, redesigned in 2010 are bright and stylish and obviously culturally accurate. The on-board product itself is surprisingly strong, and the ‘has to be’ fully flat seats in business class offer heaps of leg room, AVOD and all the creature comforts you could want. The economy class seats all offer AVOD on the wide-body airbus fleet and their new fleet coming into service all will offer greatly improved entertainment options. Looking at Wikipedia, (although not always to be trusted) there is mention that the 777 fleet on order (arriving this year) will contain 4 ‘First Class’ seats, a new not-yet-released product for Garuda Indonesia that will be above their current Executive Class.

The fleet they are currently offering is pretty young, 6.5 years, but the new fleet joining them will bring this down to a very respectable 5.8 years (compared to British Airways fleet age of 12.8!)

Whilst I still haven’t had the pleasure of flying Garuda, they plan on expanding their International network to cover many destinations including a handful in Europe, so hopefully it won’t be long until I do! Have you flown Garuda recently? Share your experience here.

Posted by:Jonny Clark

6 replies on “Garuda Indonesia, A Quantum Leap Across The Board?

  1. It is just so sad many people have died on Garuda flights (even just a few years back)… Australians are a bit more careful when it comes to flying Garuda… even with the rebranding and product enhancements.

  2. Ian that is why they are trying to say that the past is the past.

    But I do miss the actual Garuda on the tail, well at least they kept it on the fuselage.

  3. seeing is believing. always enjoy flying with Garuda (i’m a member of its frequent flyer program btw) these past three years, esp with the in-flight entertainment installed in their newest Boeing 737s.

  4. I’ve been a steadfast SQ (Singapore Airlines) fan of many years, always insisting that there really is “no better way to fly” than SQ. In 2010 following a 20 year absence from Indonesia (I’m 1/2 Indonesian and spent many a school holiday travelling from Melbourne to Jakarta to visting relatives), I decided to use my frequent flyer miles and go SQ Business to Jakarta. Sure, this was a great experience (unfortunately this was still back in the day then their 4-year-old “New Business Class” seats were still deemed as “new” by SQ, who saw fit to exclude their seats from any kind of redemption – and they had only just begun withdrawing their 747-400(which had the older, but still comfortable “spacebed”) services to Melbourne. So what was a great inflight product was somewhat tainted by the older hard product – an old recliner seat on a 777-300. Out of curiousity, I checked the published online special for the same flights MEL-CGK rtn: AUD $4100.

    I have been back to Indonesia every year since, having renewed long lost ties with family and freinds. Except this time we thought we would try Garuda. In August 2011 a Jakarta return in Business was AUD $2050 – literally half the cost of SQ. The verdict?

    Ian, you say that “Australians are a bit cautious when flying Garuda” – would it suprise you that a survey by Australian market research company Roy Morgan rated Garuda Indonesia as the “Best International Airline” voted by Aussies for the period Aug ’11-Sep ’12? I sure was – but then, having flown them since their improvement plan, I can see why.

    On thing of interest was the service of pre-takeoff drinks – in BOTH Executive and Economy classes. I cannot remember the last time pre-departure drinks were given in economy – even on Singapore. And even though it may be only fuit juice, it is still a thoughtful gesture rarely seen nowadays.

    Starting with their “hard product”, they use the BAE Minipod seat (same seat “base” for Qantas Business skybeds, Malaysian, Korean Airlines, Emirates, Japan Airlines – obviously these carriers Minipods are furnished differently – but are effectively the same seat). On their A330-300 this is at a slight angle, but on their latest A330-200 they are horizontal. Their older A330-200’s are furnished with the seat pictured above -which is just as comfortable in both sitting, reclining and bed modes. The bottom line – you get a lie flat seat on all Airbus A330 aircraft – which is the standard on Garuda’s International routes to Australia and Europe

    Whilst their beverage list may not be as extensive as the likes of Qantas and Singapore, their food presentation – true restaurant style, including individually ‘plated’ main courses (as opposed to pre-arranged in a casserole dish) – cannot be faulted – and is in fact an improvement on the picture above, having done away with meal trays, and cabin crew now individually set your table with tablecloths, cutlery and glassware.

    IFE is either armrest or seatback – depending on where your are seated, and is equipped with AVOD accessible through either touchscreen or handset unit.

    Service is always friendly (no, I didn’t have family members crewing my respective flights – nor do I speak even remotely fluent Indonesian, so I can’t see myself as biased here) – not once was my glass left empty, I could almost guarantee that the instant my glass was aproaching close to empty, a flight attendant would appear at my side offering a top up.

    Those who fly SQ business often and are aware of SQ’s amenity kits – or lack thereof (Slippers/eyeshade and ear plugs and comb) – unfortunately, Garuda is the same in this respect, and is one area where Garuda can improve on (that said, Garuda’s also has toothpaste, lipbalm and toothbrush).

    And the price of a return ticket to Jakarta in July 2012? AUD$1710 (vs SQ’s $3-4000 plus, around the same time)

    Sure, Garuda is no SQ; in fact, having family who have worked for Garuda on the ground and in the air, pre-and-mid-Quantum-leap era’s, I’ve heard Garuda was actually using KLM as their benchmark (as to whether the fact Indonesia was a Dutch Colony has any bearing on this I cannot say). But if that’s the case, how does the saying go? Something along the lines of “the student surpassing the teacher”? Whatever it is, the saying certaininly holds true for Garuda vs KLM, which I see is a 3-star airline versus Garuda’s 4-star – not to mention accolades over the past year including the Worlds Best Regional Airline.

    If Garuda keeps doing what it’s doing (AND, upon receiving it’s 777-300ER’s next year, steers clear of the dreaded 3-4-3 layout favoured by Emirates, KLM, Air France, Air New Zealand and others I cannot think of at this point in time) – they will definitely set themselves apart from the other carrier in this region. And for all the right reasons.

    (Apologies if this appears as if I’m jumping around in different directions – it is past midnight here! :-D)

  5. Like or Dislike opinion is subjective from person. Actually, I really love with The New GA’s Livery. Its simple, fresh and elegant. More from my friends in Malaysia really love to with those livery. Sory for bad english 🙂

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