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Merpati Nusantara Airlines suspends all its flights

Merpati was officially notified to suspend its flights last Monday. There is little chances for the airline to come back again in the market.

JAKARTA- Indonesian government finally decided to suspend all the flights of state-owned airline Merpati Nusantara, as the carrier has been unable to find a solution to halt its financial troubles.

On Saturday, Transportation Ministry director general for air transportation Herry Bakti Gumay said to media in Jakarta that the airline should suspend all of its flights from Monday. The Air Operation Certificate is being frozen temporarily until the airline finds a financial solution to its troubles. “Our office did not have any choice but to temporarily do so. If it is read,  it can fly again by gaining back its license”, said Mr. Gumay. Merpati has been in troubles for over a decade. Its financial position worsened recently, the airline not paying anymore its airport’s fees and fuel supply. It also did not pay wages to its employees for over two months. Many pilots resigned last week when the Merpati Pilot Association indicated that 50 of its 178 members had decided to leave the airline. The airline employs 1,680 persons.

Merpati stopped operations on February 1 due to its inability to find an acceptable solution to repay a debt estimated to be close or slightly higher than US$550 million. The government is now offering 19 exclusive routes previously served by Merpati to other airlines. The routes comprise  Biak-Sorong, Papua; Makassar, South Sulawesi-Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara; Makassar-Merauke, Papua; Manado, North Sulawesi-Palu, Central Sulawesi; and Makassar-Jayapura, Papua.

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.