Garuda Indonesia has started operating its London flights into Heathrow rather than Gatwick as part of a planned switch between airports serving the UK capital.

The five-times-weekly flights from Jakarta are routed via Singapore Changi on the outbound sector.

"The main reason we moved to Heathrow is: SkyTeam partner airlines are here, and our business passengers prefer flying from Heathrow too," says Jubi Prasetyo, Garuda's general manager for the UK and Ireland.

Garuda had made a return to Gatwick in September 2014, when it extended Amsterdam flights to the London airport. "From that time, we started to approach Heathrow to see if we could acquire slots. We applied for them during 2015, and were granted them in November," says Prasetyo

He sees the evening arrival and departure slots at Heathrow as ideal. "An evening departure is preferable for our passengers. It arrives in Jakarta at 17:00 local, with connecting flights to Australia departing later in the evening, plus flights to many destinations in Indonesia."

Garuda cannot operate flights directly from Jakarta to London, as its Boeing 777-300ERs' maximum take-off weight exceeds the strength of Soekarno Hatta airport's two runways.

Rizal Sukma, Indonesia's ambassador to the UK, acknowledges that direct flights would be preferable "to accommodate travellers on the Kangaroo route from Australia".

But he adds: "The government hopes to build a third runway at Soekarno Hatta in future that can accommodate widebody aircraft."

Having commenced operations from Heathrow's Terminal 3, Garuda intends to relocate to the currently congested Terminal 4 with other SkyTeam partner airlines in the near future.

The airline is also planning to increase the frequency of the London service from five times weekly to daily by the winter season beginning in late October.

Garuda becomes the only airline to operate direct between the two cities, but westbound between Singapore and London is in competition with British Airways and Singapore Airlines.

Flightglobal's Fleets Analyzer database shows that the airline has 10 777-300ERs. Six feature a three-class layout with 314 seats: eight in first, 38 in business, and 268 in economy.

Source: Cirium Dashboard