In what should be big news for South East Asia based SkyTeam members, Garuda Indonesia (GA) has announced that the airline is re-entering the Indian market after a break of almost exactly 30 years – their last flight having operated in December 1986.
The airline will begin services from their home base of Jakarta to Mumbai with a stop in Bangkok along the way.
Better yet, for passengers at least (not so much for the airline), the lead in time to this flight is just a question of mere weeks – December 12, 2016 is slated to be the inaugural service for the flight.
Flights will be operated three times weekly on the Garuda’s Boeing 737-800 Next Gen aircraft, equipped with the spacious new Boeing Sky Interior, WiFi and AVOD individual personal televisions. Flights will depart Soekarno-Hatta International airport (CGK) in the middle of the day, flying first to Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and making a 55 minute pit stop before continuing on to Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM), landing in the early evening on the same day.
Flights will operate every Monday/Wednesday/Friday and schedules will look like this:
GA 862 Jakarta (CGK) Dep 12:55 – Arr Bangkok (BKK) 16:25
-00:55 minutes stopover-
GA 862 Bangkok (BKK) Dep 17:20 – Arr Mumbai (BOM) 20: 30
GA 861 Mumbai (BOM) Dep 23:05 – Arr Bangkok (BKK) 0455+1
-01:40 hours stopover-
GA 861 Bangkok (BKK) Dep 0635+1 – Arr Jakarta (CGK) 10:05
While it’s a shame that Gaurda won’t be flying daily between these major Asian cities, it’s great that the airline is at least attempting to penetrate the Indian market – and if done well, expect that the flight goes daily at some point soon.
So this is a major boost for SkyTeam travelers in South East Asia – mainly for those based out of ASEAN countries. While SkyTeam has a very strong presence in East Asia and China through Korean Air, China Eastern and China Southern, folks further south have been quite isolated. The alliance does have a presence in the region through Vietnam Airlines and Garuda and to a lesser extent Taiwan’s China Airlines, but neither of the former two currently have India flights and as a traveler from Australia. NZ, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia and the like have no real SkyTeam options to India that don’t involve a massive detour further north.
This all changes with this new flight.
The new Garuda flight is the perfect connector, especially it’s noon time departure from Jakarta giving plenty incoming transit options and on the reverse side with a mid-morning arrival back into the city, again allowing for a massive choice of domestic Indonesia flights and beyond. It’s about time that these two massive markets are connected directly on a SkyTeam carrier. India is well served by SkyTeam from all points west, as in Europe and the United States – but the same can’t be said for options to the east. This new flight takes a massive step to correcting that for SkyTeam fliers.
Better yet, Garuda will have local rights between Bangkok and Mumbai, which means you can book a cheap ticket between the two cities. So there’s your SkyTeam option on this massive trunk route – now the alliance can compete with the Star Alliance options (Thai Airways, Air India) and oneworld (Cathay Pacific).
Oh and now would be the best time to avail of some cheap introductory fares on the route as the airline will be keen to establish an initial market presence and brand awareness in the country. Introductory fares in Economy are starting at around $425 all in, with Business going at around $900 – not bad for Garuda’s 5 Star product on a near 7 hour flight!
Garuda would be a definite front running option for me if I was SIN based and was a SkyTeamer – would it be for you as well?