Garuda’s announcement of a return to Brisbane with frequent single aisle services to Bali and then on to Jakarta is interesting for the scale it gives to the consequences for Australia-Indonesia air travel sector of the increased consumer wealth in the vast archipelago to our north.

Surely the most important thing about Indonesia is not the size of the Australia to Indonesia market, but the Indonesia originating market, which as is the case with China, going to be of enormous size in its own right.

Garuda’s plans talk about 737-800s. They will be large twin aisle jets within 10 years, as is already the case for its services to larger Australian cities.

The question for Australian airlines and their investors and employees is how much of the action they can secure.

As has often been discussed here in the past, gaining traction for Australian airlines within Indonesia is anything but easy, or certain, but the scale of the traffic that is emerging nevertheless makes it imperative to try to become a part of it.

Other Asia-Pacific states have exactly the same challenges. So far, the trans border brand AirAsia, seems to be the most advanced in it efforts, with its founder Tony Fernandes recently moving house to Jakarta to better work the politics and the opportunities for his part owned Indonesia subsidiary.

The next most obvious play of the moment is that of Tiger Airways Singapore, which has taken a minority stake in a revived Mandala operation.

This is what Garuda said about Brisbane, and much more:

Garuda Indonesia, the airline of Indonesia, will reintroduce services from Brisbane to Jakarta and Denpasar starting August 2013 after a five year break.

Announced by Garuda Indonesia president and CEO, Emirsyah Satar at the Garuda Indonesia Travel Fair in Jakarta, the new route is part of the airline’s Quantum Leap strategy, which aims to boost the airline’s competitiveness significantly by 2015.

Commenting on the new route, Bagus Y. Siregar, Vice President for Garuda Indonesia Australia and SWP said: “Australian travel to Indonesia is growing every year, with a 20% increase in passenger numbers in the first half of this year on the same period in 2011. We have also seen a significant growth in demand in Queensland, particularly in the leisure sector.

“We’re very excited to be able to offer our Queensland customers the opportunity to fly direct to Indonesia on our Boeing 737-800 NextGen. Flights will operate six times per week from Brisbane via Denpasar to Jakarta, and cater to both the leisure and corporate market.”

Speaking at the Garuda Indonesia Travel Fair, Emirsyah Satar also announced significant fleet expansion plans: “Next year we will receive 24 new aircraft comprising of four B777-300ER, ten B737-800 NextGen, two Airbus A330-200, one A330-300 and seven Bombardier CRJ-1000 NextGen. This will allow us to expand our domestic and international network.”


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