State-owned Indonesia Trading Company (ITC) has proposed operating two Airbus Defence & Space A400M tactical transports to help balance domestic trade in Indonesia.

On its website, the Indonesian air force states that it would be willing to provide crews to support such a venture. The remarks came after a meeting between air force chief of staff Yuyu Sutisna and president director of ITC, Agus Andiyani.

In this proposed mission, the aircraft would be used to ferry goods between western and eastern Indonesia, thereby reducing price disparities between the two parts of far-flung archipelago.

Following the air force statement, ITC felt obliged to release a statement stressing that it has ordered no aircraft, nor does it operate any aircraft.

On its website, the agency indicates that it is involved with products such as fertilizer, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and other products.

Airbus has long viewed Indonesia as a potential market for the A400M, and has close ties to local manufacturer Indonesian Aerospace.

In March 2017, Airbus signed a signed a letter of intent with an Indonesian company related to Jakarta’s possible purchase of the A400M transport aircraft. The LOI was with Pelita Air Services, which represents a consortium of state-owned companies involved in aerospace.

“We believe that the A400M will be an outstanding asset to support Indonesia´s vision of creating an air bridge to help redistribute wealth and resources across the archipelago as well as providing the basis for the expansion of our long-standing industrial cooperation,” said Fernando Alonso, head of military aircraft at the airframer.

The air force statement does not make clear why the A400M, which is optimised for military usage, is the best option for airfreight services between the two parts of the country. Irrespective of its impressive performance characteristics, particularly its ability to operate from rough airstrips and its cargo ramp, used cargo aircraft could be obtained on the open market for far less money.

French budget documents from 2013 suggest an A400M unit cost of €152 million ($187 million).

Older Boeing 747 freighters, however, can be obtained for as little as $1.8 million for a used 747-200F, or $24 million for a used 747-400F. There are 41 747 freighters listed as being in storage.