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Merpati Nusantara to Have its Wings Clipped?

Aircraft Leasing Companies Moving to Seize Boeing 737 Aircraft Due to Unpaid Charter Payments by Merpati Nusantara Airline.

(5/7/2011) Seven Boeing 737-300s flown by Merpati Nusantara Airline may be withdrawn by the owners who leased the aircraft to the State-owned airlines due to unpaid rentals of Rp. 50 billion (US$5.5 million).

Bisnis.com confirms that one Boeing 737-300 owned by Aircastle and based in Surabaya was repossessed on Wednesday, May 4, 2011.

Iwan Nurjadi, an attorney from the firm of Nurjadi, Sumono, Mulyadi & Pranoto (NSMP) representing 3 aircraft leasing companies, said there were unpaid debts of US$2.5 million owned to his clients, including Jetlease, since March 2011.

Said Nurjadi: "Merpati owes payments to the three leasing companies who are our clients, one of whom is Jetlease."

In order to minimize further debt exposure to the 3 leasing companies, Nurjadi said his office plans to seize the 3 aircraft on behalf of his clients by the end of May 2011.

Nurjadi went on to explain that he was aware that Merpati also owed money to two more leading companies, putting a total of seven Boeing 737-300s and 5 reserve engines at risk of confiscation. He also said the total owed to aircraft leasing companies amounts to Rp. 50 billion.

The lawyer said he had formally written to the Minister of Finance to advise the airline's default and to ask the government, as the company's chief stockholder,  its plans to address the threat of aircraft seizure.

In a separate article in Bisnis.com, the commercial director of Merpati, Tony Aulia Achmad, told the press that the airline is not in default of its debts although it is unable to pay the outstanding amounts in full.

Commenting on allegations that they owe US$2.5 million to the aircraft leasing companies, Achmad said: "The amount is not that large. Maybe that amount include penalties. We are not in default, we have just not paid the full amount."