Garuda delays direct Jakarta-London flight due to ageing airport
SINGAPORE, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Garuda Indonesia has delayed the launch of its first direct Jakarta-London service by six months due to the capital's ageing airport in another example of creaking infrastructure hitting business in Southeast Asia's largest economy.
State-run Garuda will now start the service in May 2014. The new route was part of Garuda's plans to expand further into the long-haul and premium market.
The airline said the surface of the runways and apron at Soekarno-Hatta airport were not strong enough to support a full capacity, heavy duty commercial aircraft, such as a Boeing B777-300ER, at the maximum take-off weight on the London route.
After years of "fatigue", the 28-year-old runway at the airport must be upgraded, Garuda Chief Executive Emirsyah Satar said in a statement.
The airport operator could not be reached for comment.
"This highlights the fact that we really need to seriously fix our infrastructure to be able to boost growth in aviation sector," said Harry Su, head of research at Jakarta-based PT Bahana Securities.
Privately held Lion Air, AirAsia Bhd and PT Mandala Airlines, part-owned by Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd , are expanding capacity in one of the world's fastest growing but most competitive aviation markets, while regional carriers are also expanding international flights.
Jakarta's main airport was ranked as the world's ninth busiest based on passenger traffic of 57.8 million in 2012, according to preliminary results from the Airports Council International.