Garuda mulls switching to Heathrow for London route

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Garuda Indonesia is considering switching its upcoming London services from Gatwick to Heathrow airport to facilitate easier connections with its partner carriers.

The airline is planning to launch nonstop services to Gatwick by the end of the year after it takes delivery of its third and fourth Boeing 777-300ERs.

Chief executive Emirsyah Satar says that while the carrier is still working towards flying into Gatwick, there would be advantages for moving those services to Heathrow, especially when it joins the SkyTeam alliance in March 2014.

"Put it this way, we're joining SkyTeam and the SkyTeam terminal is at Heathrow," he says.

Most SkyTeam carriers use Terminal 4 at Heathrow, which allows passengers to connect more easily between its member carriers. The terminal also features dedicated premium lounges used by the carriers based there.

Emirsyah admits, however, that launching services to Heathrow would be difficult due to the congestion and lack of available slots.

In tandem with the launch of its London services, Garuda will adjust its Australian services to allow passengers to connect to London through Jakarta.

As part of that, Garuda will deploy its 777s on the Jakarta-Sydney route. The 777s are the only aircraft in the fleet that feature its first class suites and the airline is hopeful of being able to tap the premium market between Sydney and London with the new premium product.