Garuda denies Merpati partnership claim
National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has denied a claim made by the ailing Merpati Nusantara Airlines that both companies will partner in the future.
Garuda president director Emirsyah Satar told The Jakarta Post that collaborating with Merpati would jeopardize Garuda’s IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit) certificate — an internationally recognized certificate on safety and accepted evaluation systems, designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline.
“We will not be able to team up with them as long as their condition remains like this because the International Air Transport Association will revoke the IOSA certificate. This will jeopardize Garuda,” Emirsyah said recently.
He said that Merpati should be on par with Garuda if the ailing company ever teams up with the national carrier.
“If [Merpati] could fix its management and made it a better [airline] in the future, there would be a good chance for collaboration. But for the moment, we are not going to work with [Merpati],” he said.
In addition, teaming up with Merpati might also affect Garuda’s efforts to join the global airline alliance SkyTeam, which is projected to materialize in early 2014.
Emirsyah also denied that Garuda would provide a propeller powered engine aircraft (ATR) to Merpati. “We do not have nor do we operate an ATR. We do not have any plan to give them the aircraft.”
Previously, the newly appointed Merpati president director Rudy Setyopurnomo said that the airline would work with Garuda on a wide range of activities including flight services and aircraft maintenance to help strengthen its business.
Rudy said that Merpati would play its part as Garuda’s feeder, enabling passengers to go to remote or tourist destinations that were not flown to by Garuda.
In the maintenance facility business, Merpati Maintenance Facility (MMF) would work on projects that could not be handled by the Garuda Maintenance Facility (GMF) AeroAsia.
Contacted separately, Rudy said that Merpati was currently working hard to be on a par with Garuda.
“We are fixing the company now and we will make Merpati fly higher in the future,” he told the Post.
Both carriers are owned by the government. While Garuda is regarded as a national flag carrier serving major domestic and international routes, Merpati focuses its operations on domestic routes, especially in eastern parts of Indonesia.
Merpati is currently restructuring its whole management due to a hefty debt. The airline received a Rp 561 billion (US$59.46 million) loan from the State Asset Management Company (PPA) on Dec. 30, 2011, to help it pay off its debts.
Merpati’s total debt topped Rp 264.2 billion, mostly for fuel supplied by state oil and gas firm PT Pertamina.
It has recently closed down one-fifth of its existing routes, including Jakarta–Bandung, in order to reduce the firm’s losses.
According to the company’s data, 112 out of 124 of Merpati’s routes suffered losses because the passenger load factor, which represents flight occupancy, was less than 60 percent.