Indonesia's Merpati Nusantara Airlines plans to strengthen services on its domestic network by leasing five Boeing 737-400s and five 737-500s.

The aircraft will partially replace eight Fokker F28s that are due for sale before 2003.

Leases will run for between two and five years, during which time the lessor will have to provide all spares support, says Merpati planner Tony Sudjiarto. Crews will also be provided for between three and six months while Merpati's pilots are trained.

On routes where the airports are large enough, F28s will be replaced by 737s. Merpati will also replace Fokker 100s on some routes, says Sudjiarto.

By year-end only four or five F28s will remain because eight aircraft will be sold. Merpati hopes to replace the last F28s with regional jets from Bombardier or Embraer in the next two years.

Merpati intends to redeploy some Fokker 100s to new joint-venture airlines now being discussed with five or six of Indonesia's richest provinces.

Source: Flight International