The plight continues…
It is almost a year since I wrote “The Merpati question: How do you rescuscitate a dead pigeon” and Merpati is now coming up to its 50th anniversary.
Whilst the turnaround at the prime state owned carrier Garuda, is now beginning to finally produce profits, Merpati remains in limbo. I wonder how much more things can go wrong there…
The CEO’s rant at the parliament’s 6th commission last year of “Look at Air Asia. One should look and ask if any regulations have been violated. (If not, then) The regulations should be reviewed. There is no way for anyone to operate the A320 profitably on short haul!” seems to have been followed by Merpati planning to add A320s to its fleet middle of this year. Bizarre!
Then in October last year, state oil company Pertamina refused to supply fuel on credit to Merpati, citing fuel debts of $62.15 million. Fuel supply was restored when the state’s Asset Management Company (PT Perusahaan Pengelola Aset) guaranteed restructuring of the debt worth $63.39 million.
Is the MA-60 the current flagship
of Merpati?
In February, they also signed an MOU with COMAC for 40 ARJ21-700 at the Singapore Air Show. If the deal goes ahead, this would be the biggest order for the type outside China. However, it appears that COMAC didn’t want the signing to be well publicized outside China and Indonesia, asking for the journalist present not to publicize it. However, the signing made news allover Indonesia. It all sounds strange, but after all, Merpati is also the largest operator for the AVIC MA-60, and many still question the decision to go for that aircraft type.
Then, came the video for Merpati’s upcoming 50th Anniversary, uploaded on 4th April 2012.
In short, I think the video meant:
“We screwed up in the past, so we now have to make it better. We’re sorry, and change, is the only way for Merpati to survive. So, we’ve got comfortable MA-60s now, so what we have to do is to fill it with passengers with no excuses! So let’s get to work.” The video ends with a quote, “Doing the impossible!”
Garuda could end up operating the
The talk on whether or not Merpati should be saved continue as we speak. Much of the principle business question is, “what role should be filled by Merpati, as a state owned company.” But before a consensus short list of answers can be gained, a major threat to Merpati’s future came today with Garuda’s announcement published in Flightglobal, that it plans to buy either the ATR72 or Bombardier Q400 for low-density routes in eastern Indonesia.
A Wings Air ATR72 about to land
at Denpasar’s Airport, Bali
While this plan will bring Garuda in direct competition with Lion Air group’s ATR operations under Wings Air, citing the words “to serve low-density routes in eastern Indonesia” means Garuda intends to attack Merpati’s bread and butter market (whatever is left of it)!
So, as Merpati’s 50th anniversary is coming up, the giant mythical eagle, the Garuda, plans to attack the pigeon and the pigeon (a.k.a. Merpati) still hasn’t recovered from the ATR onslaught of Lion, which coincidentally was announced near Merpati’s 45th anniversary, 5 years ago.
Is the pigeon able to defend itself from the eagle and the lion? Could it be better to simply stop feeding steroids to the pigeon and just cook it while it still has value? Or is it better to continue feeding it, only to be eaten alive by the eagle and the lion?

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