DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Indonesian carrier Merpati Nusantara Airlines (MZ) was founded in 1962. MZ was established to provide air services to remote areas of the country to boost these regional economies.
Merpati commenced operations shortly afterward with a fleet of two Douglas DC-3s and four de Havilland DHC-3 Otters. The airframes, pilots, and engineers were sourced from the Indonesian Air Force and the nation’s flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia (GA). The latter owned 6.8% of MZ, while the government owned the remaining 93.2%.
Varied Network and Fleet
MZ grew its scheduled domestic operation over the years and expanded to international routes, flying to Australia, East Timor, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.
The expansion led to the airline operating a wide and varied fleet. This included Airbus A300/A310, Boeing 707/727/737s, BAe 146/ATP, de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otters, Fokker 70/100, and the Chinese-built Xian MA60, which replaced its elderly Fokker F27s.
However, MZ had suffered financial difficulties for some time owing to the rising number of privately owned carriers in the country. On February 1, 2014, the airline suspended all operations after many of its staff resigned.
Merpati MK. II?
In 2016, the Indonesian government planned to complete a privatization tender for MZ with the hope of resurrecting the carrier. The government would retain a 51% share, and three parties expressed interest in the remaining 49% stake. Operations were mooted to resume in 2017 with a fleet of 737-700/800s. In 2018, MZ signed a letter of intent (LOI) for ten Russian Irkut MC-21s.
Sadly, in June 2022, plans for a new Merpati were permanently shelved, with licenses permanently withdrawn by the government.