Garuda Indonesia will become the only carrier to offer a non-stop service between London and the Southeast Asian nation this spring.
The airline, which currently operates a three-times-weekly service to Jakarta from Gatwick via Amsterdam, will depart Heathrow instead from April 1 and offer five flights per week.
While the return flight from Indonesia – which receives around 180,000 UK tourists per year – will initially operate via Singapore, Garuda hopes this too will become a non-stop service by the end of the year.
The carrier initially planned to commence a non-stop service from London in 2013 but was delayed when it was found the runway at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta international airport did not meet requirements for the operation of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which Garuda uses.
The year-round service will operate on Garuda’s existing fleet, with the direct flight taking around 14 and a half hours.
General manager for UK and Ireland, Jubi Prasetyo, said: “We have listened to our customers and trade over the last two years.
“We have a strong sales team in the UK and strong online training on OTT, which is very effective.”
Prasetyo said Garuda will organise a launch party for the new direct flights and the online training module will be updated overnight when tickets go on sale on in the third week of February. Fam trips and incentives for agents will also “likely” be organised next year.
“We are targeting 40% market share on UK flights to Indonesia, from our current level of 20% and aim to increase UK visitor numbers to 200,000 by December 2016,” he said.
Garuda plans an “aggressive” marketing strategy for Europe next year in a bid to increase brand awareness.
In conjunction with the Indonesian Tourist Office in the UK the airline is aiming to run newspaper, digital billboard and online campaigns as well as ‘experiential’ events in public places.
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