Mandala Airlines ceases trading

Mandala Airlines is an Indonesian budget airline that has been operating since 1969.

Because of problems with debt the airline has suspended all operations for a period of 45 days while they try to find new investors with which to keep the company solvent.

The airline has returned its fleet of 3 Airbus A320s and two Airbus A319s to the leasing companies whilst they search out new funding.

The airline has an interesting history, having been started by a couple of Indonesian army generals and was basically run by the army.  Its name, Mandala, was not names after the eight-sided Sanskrit design which symbolised the Universe.  Instead, Mandala Airlines was named after Operation Mandala, in which Indonesian forces invaded East Papua to claim that portion of the island of New Guinea for Indonesia.

Mandala planes have been involved in a number of incidents, with the worst occurring in 1992, when a Vickers Viscount flew into a hill on the island of Ambon with the loss of all 70 people on board.  In 2005 a Boeing 737-200 crashed on takeoff from the Sumatran city of Medan with the loss of over 100 people.    

2006 was also a bad year, with three Boeing 737-200s skidding off runways during bad weather.  Fortunately, without the loss of life.

Given that Indonesian airlines have a poor safety record; it may be a good thing for Mandala to go under.

Apparently, many of the airline’s pilots have already been assigned jobs with the Singapore carrier Tiger Airways on a temporary basis until the future course becomes clear.

Let’s hope that Tiger retrains the pilots to lick any bad habits they may have picked up whilst flying for Mandala.

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