State-controlled national airline Garuda Indonesia may need to stop direct flights between Jakarta and Amsterdam (The Netherlands) because the runway of Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport does not meet required safety standards. Airport operator Angkasa Pura II recently decreased the airport’s pavement classification number (PCN) as the surface of the runway is not strong enough to accommodate wide-body Boeings that take off while being fully loaded with passengers and fuel.
In May 2014 Garuda Indonesia launched the direct flight route between the capital cities of Jakarta and Amsterdam in order to speed up travel time between both cities. Due to the historical relation between Indonesia and the Netherlands there is plenty of demand for air traveling between both countries. However, passengers had always been forced to spend several hours (transit) in airports in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Abu Dhabi before continuing the journey. The direct flight, which currently still serves the route five times a week, can transport air passengers within 14 hours.
Novianto Herupratomo, Operational Director at Garuda Indonesia, said that the combination of the fully loaded airplane and quality of the runway at Soekarno-Hatta International airport means that Garuda cannot sell all seats on the wide-body Boeing 777ER as it would jeopardize the safety of airline passengers. However, he also informed that direct flights from Amsterdam to Jakarta are likely to be continued as this route is usually less popular and therefore airplanes carry a lower amount of passengers. The route Jakarta-Amsterdam, on the other hand, may require a stopover in Singapore to meet safety requirements.
Another solution would be to improve the quality of the runways of Soekarno-Hatta International airport, which is located just outside of Jakarta. The local airport operator is currently studying a plan to put a new layer of asphalt on top of the current runway.
Before introducing its direct Jakarta-Amsterdam flight route, Garuda Indonesia used the Airbus 330-200 with a stopover in Abu Dhabi to serve the (indirect) route. In June 2013, the national flag carrier received its first USD $150 million Boeing 777ER (currently it owns six Boeing 777ERs and another three are scheduled to arrive in 2015) for long distance flights. This fuel-efficient aircraft has a total of 314 passenger seats.