Indonesian cargo start-up Air Maleo to use F27s

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Indonesian cargo start-up Air Maleo aims to start flying next month, using two Fokker F27 freighters.

It has purchased three F27 freighters and the first two, in the coming days, will commence a ferry flight from Idaho state in northwest USA to Indonesia, says Air Maleo technical manager Muhammad Dimjati.

Air Maleo bought the F27 freighters from Idaho-based carrier Empire Airlines, he says. Flightglobal's ACAS database says Empire operates cargo flights on behalf of FedEx and replaced its F27s with ATR freighters.

Dimjati says Air Maleo has applied for an air operator's certificate and hopes to receive it in time to commence operations by mid-March.

This start-up will be based in West Papua, in eastern Indonesia, and will operate cargo charter flights from the province's capital Jayapura to small townships in the mountains, he says.

It will mostly transport food stuffs and building materials, says Dimjati, adding that Air Maleo's owner already has a sea cargo business.

Air Maleo has recruited six pilots, who have undergone training at Merpati Nusantara's simulator training centre, and the Indonesian state-owned carrier will be helping Air Maleo with line maintenance, says Dimjati.

Dimjati says Air Maleo plans to use Fokker Services Asia in Singapore for heavy maintenance checks.

Air Maleo, which derives its name from Sulawesi island's native Maleo bird, plans to later expand its freighter operation beyond West Papua and into Sulawesi, says Dimjati.

He says it also wants to add a larger turboprop freighter and plans to add passenger aircraft in the longer term. But the passenger operation is unlikely to use turboprops because "passengers are more impressed with jets," he says.