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Mandala Airline Gets a Reprieve

Minister of Transportation Bends the Rules to Give Mandala Airline Until April 2012 to Resume Flight Operations

(1/9/2012) The Ministry of Transportation has extended the operating permit of Mandala Airlines until April 2012, providing another chance for the shareholders of the now-defunct Indonesian carrier to become airborne once again.

The Director General of Civil Aviation from the Ministry, Herry Bakti Singayuda Gumay, said the extension was given to Mandala to support efforts to regain the airline’s Air Operating Certificate (AOC).

“At this time, Mandala is still processing its AOC, so we cannot suspend the operation licenses for the company which technically expires on January 13, 2012,” explained Herry.

He went on to explain that the decision to extend the operating license of Mandala is in support of efforts by one shareholder, Tiger Airways, who owns 32.9% of all shared. Tiger Airways is owned by Singapore Airlines who are preparing two Airbus A320 aircraft for use by Mandala. These two aircraft are in Singapore awaiting airworthiness inspections by the Indonesian Government needed to fly the aircraft in Indonesian airspace.

Strict applications of the Indonesian rules demands that the operating license (SIUP) of Mandala automatically became invalid on January 13, 2012 – the one-year anniversary of the airline’s cessation of scheduled flights. Explaining the exception to the rules, Herry said: “But, Mandala is still trying. What’s more they have advanced an AOC which is under process, so our policy is to extend the SIUP for four more months.”

After the airline ceased operations in January 2011, the Saratoga Group and Tiger Airways acquired Mandala Airlines. Saratoga – an Indonesian financial group – now owns 51% of the Airline’s shares. The corporate secretary for the Saratoga Group, Devin Wirawan, said the delivery of several aircraft is awaiting the issuance of airworthiness certificates by the Ministry of Transportation.

Meanwhile, a professor of aviation law from the Trisakti University, Martono, said the decision to extend the operating license of Mandala is legally indefensible as it violates the aviation law of 2009.

That law places an absolute limit of 12 months on any gap in operations for any licensed air operator after which their operating license is revoked. That same law mandates that each airline operate at least ten aircraft, five of which it actually owns.