Merpati Nusantara Airline for sale

Merpati Nusantara Airline for sale

Dahlan Iskan. (ANTARA/Yudhi Mahatma)

But at least we have made the attempt to sell the shares of Merpati to investors."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Minister for State Enterprises Dahlan Iskan said the state owned PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines is for sales.

The option is to save the debt ridden airline, now burdened with debts of around Rp6 trillion to a number of other state companies, Dahlan said here on Friday.

There is no limit set for the shares of the airline to be sold to interested investors, he said, adding prospective investors are given two months to submit their bid.

"We invite investors to come up with their bid and proposals to sort out the problems besetting Merpati," he said.

Merpati has gone through several times of restructuring including injection of fresh fund by the government and streamlining of its employees, and restructuring of debts to the private sector through debt to equity swap.

In December 2011, Merpati, which serves domestic routes mainly pioneer flights to isolated areas, received a fund injection of Rp561 billion from the state budget.

However, an additional injection of Rp250 billion approved in 2012, is not disbursed until today.

Lately the office of the minister for state enterprises has set up a Restructuring Team, but apparently it failed to save the airline.

Merpati owes the debts to state companies including oil company PT Pertamina, airport operators PT Angkasa Pura I and PT Angkasa Pura II, and asset management PT Perusahaan Pengelola Aset (PPA).

Dahlan acknowledged that he is not optimistic that the offer would attract any investor with such big debts involved.

"But at least we have made the attempt to sell the shares of Merpati to investors. If that failed we would take other steps," he said.

Earlier, Dahlan said he was mulling over the possibility of Merpati stopping aeronautical business "with liquidation the last option."

Merpati could change its core business to aircraft maintenance under Merpati Maintenance Facility (MMF), he said.

"Business in aircraft maintenance is highly prospective as Merpati already has skilled human resources," he said.

He said MMF could operate independently to avoid being included in the liquidation.

"The option, however, just crossed my mind. It could change depending on the condition surrounding the airline," he said.