PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines has the chance to fly again after four years of ceasing operations. The company is now free of bankruptcy threat and gets a private capital injection commitment, but the government cannot guarantee that the company will be able to resume its operations in 2019.
Last week, Surabaya Commercial Court granted Merpati’s peace proposal related to debt postponement petition (PKPU). With the issuance of this homologation verdict, it means that creditors give the airline company an opportunity to operate again. However, the debts must be repaid after it operates.
Merpati has a total debt of Rp 10.95 trillion, consisting of Rp 5.99 trillion from 85 unsecured creditors (congruent) and Rp 3.87 trillion from three secured creditors (separatist). The three secured creditors are Ministry of Finance (Rp 2.66 trillion), Bank Mandiri (Rp 254 billion), and state-owned asset management company PT Perusahaan Pengelola Aset (Rp 965 billion).
After serving flights for half a century, Merpati ceased its operations on 1 February 2014. The airline, which was once famous for its pioneer flights (penerbangan perintis) in Indonesia, was unable to finance its operations and pay off debts. Based on data from Perusahaan Pengelola Aset (PPA), Merpati’s asset value is only Rp 1.21 trillion with debt obligations of Rp 10.72 trillion and equity of minus Rp 9.51 trillion.
Panel of Judges of the Surabaya Commercial Court granted Merpati’s peace proposal over the PKPU filed by its creditors because the company now has a new investor who will inject fresh funds. The investor is Kim Johanes Mulia, through his company PT Intra Asia Corpora (IAC).
On 29 August 2018, Merpati and Intra Asia Corpora signed a Conditional Equity Capital Transaction Agreement. In order to be able to resume the airline’s operations, Intra Asia Corpora will disburse capital of Rp 6.4 trillion in two years.
Kim and his company are not new players in the aviation industry. He had saved Kartika Airlines, which ceased operations in 2004. By acquiring 80 percent of the company’s shares from Truba, Kim was able to make Kartika Airlines resume its operations in 2005.
However, the Ministry of Transportation banned Kartika Airlines’ plane from flying after only operating for three years in 2008. The reason is that the number of planes owned by this full service airlines was still below the limit set by the government. At the time, Kartika Airlines promised to purchase 30 Sukhoi planes in 2010. Unfortunately, the plan was cancelled because Kartika Airlines failed to meet financial requirements. The government eventually revoked its operating permit in 2011.
Kim, who was born in Serbalawan, Medan, has also reaped a lot of controversy in his business. He was once involved in Bank Bali cessie scandal or receivable collection rights worth Rp 5 trillion. He was accused of making a fictitious letter from former director of Bank Bali Rudy Ramli, which contained a rebuttal from Rudy about the involvement of people close to B.J. Habibie in the scandal. According to Rudy, Kim was involved in making the letter in exchange for Rp 5 billion from the collection rights.
In 1997, Kim had also dealt with the police and detained at the Metro Jaya Regional Police for allegedly involved in issuing fictitious bonds worth Rp 1.02 trillion through Bank Artha Prima. At the time, he underwent a trial and was acquitted.
According to PPA, it has received general information about Intra Asia Corpora, including its owner Kim Johanes Mulia. The entry of the company as Merpati’s new partner has been carried out through a number of assessment tests. In terms of finding new investors, Merpati claimed to have appointed an assessment team.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani was reluctant to comment on investor capabilities that would help Merpati to resume operations. She left the assessment in the hands of the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises (SOE). However, she reminded that the investors who want to invest in Merpati must have a good credibility. “Track record is what I see,” Sri Mulyani said in Jakarta, Monday (11/12).