State-owned carrier Merpati Nusantara Airlines is buying eight Boeing 737-800 aircraft and aims to open new routes this year as its performance has been improving.
With the additional aircraft, the company will operate a total of 27 aircraft.
“Two of the new aircraft will come this year, and the rest next year,” Merpati Nusantara Airlines Makassar district manager Edi Nurokhman said on the sidelines of company’s 50th anniversary commemoration in Makassar, South Sulawesi, on Thursday evening.
The company has also signed an agreement with state-owned aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia to buy 20 Cassa aircraft to serve pioneering routes.
The company also aims to open new routes, as well as increasing frequencies on existing ones, such as Makassar – Banjarmasin and Makassar – Yogyakarta.
The new routes include Jakarta – Sorong, Jakarta – Biak, Jakarta – Jayapura, Jakarta – Merauke, Jakarta – Nabire, Makassar – Timika and Makassar – Sorong.
Edi pointed out that the company had shown improvement in performance over the past three months, with its market share increased by 50 percent while the load factor had gone up to 90 percent.
“We have seen an increase in market share. We have also managed to book a profit,” he said, declining to unveil the figures.
With the improvement, he continued, the company hopes that it will receive funds from the government to help its financial recovery.
“We hope that the amount of funds will be the same as last year, which was Rp 561 billion (US$58.5 million. The funds will definitely help our recovery,” he said.
Merpati Nusantara Airlines had to close down 20 percent of its routes in May due to small load factors, which caused the airline to suffer a Rp 350 billion loss from January to April this year and a Rp 745 billion loss throughout last year.
The airline’s total debt topped Rp 264.2 billion, mostly for fuel supplied by state oil and gas firm PT Pertamina. The airline received a Rp 561 billion loan from the State Asset Management Company (PPA) on Dec. 30, 2011, to help it pay off its debts. (swd)