Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX. Photo: PK-REN.

MIAMI – It has come to light that the founders of Indonesia’s PT Lion Mentari Airlines (JT) could be planning to launch a new airline. JT expects the project to move the airline past its Boeing 737 MAX jet crash back in 2018.

According to several sources and Business Times, Budi Prayitno, a spokesman for the Transport Ministry confirmed that there is an application for an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) in progress. So far, Jt has declined to comment on the matter.

Rusdi Kirana, co-founder of JT, would be the carrier’s project initiator. Regarding the Indonesian businessman, Shukor Yusof, founder of Malaysian aviation consulting firm Endau Analytics, said that he did not underestimate Kirana. The consultant also stated that JT had better leverage ratios than its South-east Asian rivals.

Independent aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman said that the launch could be a good strategy for the JT group, as its rivals are “suffering.” due to COVID-19. The pandemic has had a major negative impact on the country. Air travel numbers are 7.14 million below compared to the same period last year, reported the national statistics bureau.

The first 737-MAX9 to be delivered. Photo: Bernie Leighton

Lion Air and the Boeing 737 MAX

In 2018, the errors in the design of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, Pilots and mechanics caused the crash. Since then, JT has tried to recover.

Apart from this, British Goshawk Aviation sued the airline Group for US$2.8m over alleged lease debt for seven Boeing 737 aircraft. JT is trying to keep negotiations going.

The airline is also famous for its largest aircraft orders. These include fifty 737 MAX 10 passenger jets worth US$6.24bn in June 2017. On this, Yusof said that the airline has many valuable Boeing 737 MAX orders to be used once the pandemic ceases. Despite the founders not having made any comment yet, the new venture seems to be a profitable one for the JT Group.

Featured photo: Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX. Photo: PK-REN.