Garuda may scrap direct Jakarta-Amsterdam route

Garuda may scrap direct Jakarta-Amsterdam route
Above: Soekarno-Hatta International Airport

National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia may scrap its Jakarta-Amsterdam direct flight route because the surface of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport's runway is not strong enough to accommodate a wide-body jet with a full load of passengers and enough fuel for a non-stop flight.

"We are still considering the plan because the airport operator recently decreased the airport's PCN [pavement classification number]," Garuda Indonesia president director Arif Wibowo told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

PCN is an International Civil Aviation Organisation standard to indicate the strength of a runway, taxiway or airport apron (or ramp).

Garuda Indonesia operational director Capt. Novianto Herupratomo previously said that Soekarno-Hatta's runway was not strong enough to accommodate wide-body Boeing 777ER that take off while carrying the weight of fuel for a non-stop flight with a 100 per cent load factor.

"As a consequence, we are not able to sell all of the seats for our Jakarta to Amsterdam direct flight, because otherwise the plane's weight will exceed the runway's bearing strength and damage it. Businesswise, it is not profitable," Novianto said.

"Therefore, we are planning to reroute the flight with a stopover in Singapore, but we will continue to serve a direct flight from Amsterdam to Jakarta," he continued.

State-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II operational director Djoko Murjatmodjo said that Soekarno-Hatta's runway was indeed unable to accommodate wide-body aircraft that served direct flights to Europe.

"There are a lot of other airlines that operate 777s at Soekarno-Hatta but none of them are using [the planes] for a direct flight to Europe," Djoko told the Post.

"Strengthening a runway takes time. The fastest way to do so is by covering it with an asphalt layer, and we are still conducting a study about it," he continued.

Garuda launched its direct flight route to Amsterdam in May last year, serving the route five times a week with its new Boeing 777-300 Extended Range (ER). The non-stop flight can transport passengers from Jakarta to Europe in under 14 hours.

Previously, the airline served the route with a stopover in Abu Dhabi using an Airbus 330-200. The airline received its first Boeing 777ER in June 2013, as part of its fleet revitalisation programme. The airline currently operates six Boeing 777ER jets. Each aircraft cost the airline around US$150 million.

The 777 twin-jet model is known as Boeing's first fly-by-wire aircraft with computer-mediated controls and as the first entirely computer-designed commercial airplane. It holds the record for the longest distance flown non-stop by a commercial airline and is a comparatively fuel-efficient alternative to other wide-body jets.

Garuda's 777ER has 314 seats with the following configuration: 8 first class seats, 38 business class seats and 268 economy class seats.

Arif previously said that the airline would welcome three new Boeing 777ER this year to cater to the growing Middle Eastern market, saying that the airline would only provide two classes, economy and business, on the jets.

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