As we approached the winter solstice there was a spate of welcome news from our national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia. What pleased us most was that the company is seriously expanding its domestic services. December 2 brought the inauguration of the first ATR 72-600 with a flight from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo and Bima. The ATR 72-600 is a turboprop built by the French-Italian company Alenia Aermacchi, the world leader for regional aircraft with 90 seats or less. (ATR is a joint venture with EADS, better known for its Airbus range of jets.) This plane is ideal for runways less than 1,600 meters that are too small for jets and has a flight range of 900 nautical miles (1,665 km) .The aircraft has a single class of economy and seating for 70 passengers. Garuda announced it is expanding its fleet with 25 of these ATR 72-600s in a joint agreement between the airline, ATR and the Danish leasing firm Nordic Aviation Capital. In addition to its 20 international destinations the airline aims to serve 39 domestic airports out of its four hubs of Jakarta, Denpasar, Makassar, and Medan.
Garuda’s regular scheduled operations with these new ATRs started on December 3rd, with flights scheduled from Bali to Labuan Bajo and Ende, and from Bali to Bima and Mataram. On December 26 there will also be daily flights linking Denpasar to Labuan Bajo and Tambolaka on West Sumba.
Labuan Bajo is the gateway to the Komodo National Park and Ende is close to the Kelimutu volcano. These are key destinations for us at Top Indonesia and what pleases us is not only the fact that more seats will be available on these routes but the integrated reservation system of Garuda will allow us to fully confirm travel arrangements well in advance, which is not always possible with the purely domestic carriers.
In a separate development on December 20, 2013, Garuda introduced Wi-Fi services on its flight GA 406 from Jakarta to Denpasar and on GA 886 from Denpasar to Haneda (Japan). Internet connectivity service on these Airbus Airbus 330 planes duplicates a similar service already in place on the airline’s Boeing 777-300 ER fleet. Expansion of connectivity services forms part of Garuda’s efforts to offer top service to the public, especially on medium and long-haul routes. Eventually all classes of service will be able to stay on-line via Wi-Fi connections whilst in flight on Garuda Indonesia.
Yes, it is the Indonesian word for Eagle…