Merpati Will Launch Jakarta-Bintan Service

State-owned Merpati Nusantara Airlines is set to commence daily flights between Jakarta and Bintan island as part of the firm’s restructuring process.

“Merpati will launch its inaugural direct flight from Jakarta to Bintan island on Sept. 24,” said PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines chairman Hotasi Nababan at a press conference.

Hotasi said that Merpati would use a Boeing 737-200 aircraft, which would depart daily at 4 p.m. on a round-trip basis.

He said the service should prove a blessing for golfing enthusiasts as it was the only direct one to Bintan, which is a major golfing center.

He explained that Merpati, which hopes to generate total revenues of Rp 2 trillion over the next two years, would collaborate with local administrations to build short runways of between 500 and 600 meters that were suitable for Cassa-type aircraft.

Executive vice president for commercial affairs Jaka Pujiyono said that the airline would commence operating three Boeing 737-400 aircraft in mid-November to serve routes in the western part of the country.

“One of the routes that we will serve is Bandung-Padang,” he said, adding that Merpati would launch its a service to Mamuju in West Sulawesi on Oct. 2

The airline’s restructuring program began after the government agreed in March last year to inject Rp 450 billion in bailout funds to help cover the airline’s debts of Rp 1.7 trillion. Merpati was then losing up to Rp 20 billion per month.

Merpati’s fleet consists of 14 jet and 14 turboprop aircraft. It also has international flights to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Dili in East Timor.

Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo