Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Garuda Indonesia: The International Routes, 2016

Staying in Southeast Asia as we finish up the month, it recently came to the attention of the Timetablist editorial committee that Garuda Indonesia has never been featured here before. A remarkable oversight which is today corrected with the airline's present route map.

Although the Timetablist strives to exhibit only the finest and more informative examples of airline cartography from the present and the past, all that we have available today is this extraordinarily complicated route map  from the airline's website.

While we applaud an airline which still undertakes to provide an old-fashioned route map on a website in this day and age, and we note that the batik-print of the continental landmasses here is a nice touch, the over-representation of codeshare routes muddles the instructional value of this map.

Perhaps the excess is an attempt to match the flag carrier's former glory. Having once had a wider reach and grander ambitions, Garuda endured an ignominious period as an international aviation pariah, black-listed from European Union airports from 2007 until 2009, and forced to retreat from some of its flagship routes, particularly the prestigious Los Angeles service and the JakartaAmsterdam trunk route to its colonial metropole along with every other inch of European airspace.

As with so many flag carriers, the contemporary iteration of Garuda is a simpler, more streamlined version, serving far fewer cities, both it is immediate region and farther afield. The triumph of the airline's renaissance has been its return to Amsterdam Schiphol, and, more recently, the reintroduction of service to London Heathrow in March of this year. Of late, management has publicly affirmed its commitment to reconnect to LAX by next year.  

That the Garuda of today only serves two European cities is nearly impossible to decipher from this route map, which shows more cities in Europe, 21, than foreign destinations that Garuda actually operates anywhere.

In truth, Garuda flies to Jeddah and Medina, (as much for the labor migration of its citizens as for holy pilgramages) and otherwise just a bare handful of east Asian megacities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Hong Kong. Flights out of both Jakarta and Denpasar airport on Bali to the major Australian cities of Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney cater to both tourism and business.

That's it. That is the extent of Garuda Indonesia at present. The dozens of other cities on this map are superfluous, showing codeshares and even freighter routes. In this day and age, most travelers are at least vaguely aware that an international airline cooperates with other carriers to ferry passengers beyond it own network; it is therefore completely unhelpful to show Cairo, Nairobi, Barcelona and Bahrain here. An airline's route map would best be limited to the airline's own routes, to demonstrate the actual extent of an airline's operation.

As it is, strangely random information, such as showing both “Moscow” as well as “Sheremetyevo” obscure more interesting operations such as Garuda's Jakarta—Singapore—Amsterdam—Jakarta routing and its non-stop from Medan to Jeddah. As it is, the map gives a sense that Garuda is attempting to display the wide breadth of its former glory of decades past, to the detriment of a more informative graphic.

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