More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal

More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal
Volkswagen has admitted it installed illegal software into 11 million 2.0 liter and 3.0 liter diesel engines worldwide (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Volkswagen emissions scandal

Iran's 'catastrophic mistake': Speculation, pressure, then admission

Iran's 'catastrophic mistake': Speculation, pressure, then admission
Analsyts say it is irresponsible to link the crash of a Ukraine International Airline Boeing 737-800 to the 737 MAX accidents (AFP Photo/INA FASSBENDER)

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 commercial jet.

QZ8501 (AirAsia)

Leaders see horror of French Alps crash as probe gathers pace

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Whirlwind hits Central Jakarta, tower collapses

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 03/31/2009 7:21 PM

A tornado had reportedly hit several areas in Central Jakarta Tuesday evening, reported.

Petojo and Cideng were among the areas hit by the whirlwind that occurred within a ten minute time frame.

According to residents, house rooftops, tree branches, a billboard and a tower belonging to the City Transportation Agency were blown away.

Central Jakarta mayor Sylviana Murni is said to have inspected the damages.

"I've just toured the area to observe the situation at hand," Murni said. (amr)

Indonesia offers US$6.14 bln high-speed rail project

Jakarta (
ANTARA News/Asia Pulse) -- Indonesia's Transport Ministry has invited investors to build a US$6.14 billion high-speed train and track project covering a distance of 683 kilometers between Jakarta and Surabaya in East Java.

Railway Director General Wendy Aritenang Yazid said the government will facilitate the process of securing the license and guarantee legal certainty for investors agreeing to build and operate the project.

Prospective investors may build and operate the project without involving the state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api, Yazid said.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lombok Int'l Airport should complete this year : VP Kalla

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sun, 03/29/2009 4:30 PM

The construction of the Lombok International Airport in Tana Awu village, Central Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara is targetted to complete by October this year, state officials said Sunday.

In a coordinating meeting between Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Transportation Minister Jusman Syafeii Djamal and State Enterprises Minister Sofyan Djalil in Mataram,

Kalla emphasized the importance of the rapid completion of the airport project in order to support the Dubai Emaar Properties investment project on the island.

It is expected that the completion of the airport would go in hand with the completion of the planned tourist resort, he said.

The construction of the airport, which so far has costed Rp 802 billion, is expected to complete by the end of 2009 for operation in 2010. reported that up to 69.91 percent of the airport runway infrastructure were done, while 64.77 percent of the passenger terminal and parking area construction needed to be completed. (amr)

More Air Safety Inspectors on Runway

The Jakarta Globe, Putri Prameshwari, March 27, 2009

In the latest effort to improve the country’s aviation safety, the government is adding more inspectors to monitor aircraft maintenance, the country’s most senior aviation official said on Friday.

An additional 10 inspectors would start their work on April 1 to monitor aircraft maintenance by all Indonesian airlines, said Herry Bhakti, director general of civil aviation at the Transportation Ministry.

The inspectors are currently working as pilots who will take a leave of absence for one year from their airlines to augment the existing 146 aviation inspectors on the ministry’s staff.

“This is part of our effort to meet European Union recommendations,” Herry said, referring to the ban imposed on all Indonesian aircraft from flying in European airspace, a restriction that has been in effect since July 2007.

The ban was based on recommendations issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization, citing safety as the reason.

The 10 inspectors, Herry said, comprise senior pilots from several airlines including state-owned Garuda Indonesia and Merpati Nusantara Airlines. “There will be a cross-checking system,” he said, “so pilots from Garuda will not monitor their own airline.”

The government has been increasing its efforts to improve national aviation. However, the country has been hit by a string of accidents and incidents in the past month.

The latest occurred on Monday when a Boeing 737-200 operated by Sriwijaya Air was forced to divert to Batam en route from Tanjung Pinang to Jakarta after an engine failure 20 minutes into its flight.

Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal said the ministry would frequently conduct surprise inspections on aircraft maintenance facilities, starting with PT Aero Nusantara Indonesia, a maintenance hangar used by Sriwijaya Air, Express Air and Kartika Airlines. He said only hangars with approved certificates can service aircraft in the country.

“I recommend airlines rejuvenate their aging aircraft, including Boeing 737-200s,” he said, adding that the ministry would impose tighter regulations on aircraft age and maintenance by sanctioning airlines with jets that accumulate prolonged flight hours.

He said that after 70,000 hours of flight, an aircraft should be “phased out,” or unauthorized to fly again, adding that an airline must change the aircraft with a newer model.

The country relies heavily on air and sea transportation to link people among its archipelago of 17,000 islands. However, poor infrastructure and inadequate safety measures often lead to overcrowding, accidents, damage to property and even casualties.

Loose screws not enough to make planes grounded

The Jakarta Post
, Jakarta | Sat, 03/28/2009 1:34 PM

The Transportation Ministry has dismissed as "insignificant" loose screws, broken lights and other technical flaws found in several of the 21 passenger planes it checked on Thursday.

"The flaws found were insignificant," Yurlis Hasibuan, airworthy certification director at the Transportation Ministry's air transportation directorate general, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

"According to our standards, those planes are airworthy."

The country has experienced a slew of aircraft accidents in the past few years. In 2007, 10 such incidents occurred, prompting the European Commission to ban all Indonesian airlines from EU airspace.

The deadliest accident involved a Boeing 737-400 belonging to the now defunct Adam Air, which went missing on its way to Manado, North Sulawesi, from Surabaya, East Java on Jan. 1 last year.

Yurlis said his office on Thursday checked 21 planes belonging to low-cost airlines such as Mandala, Sriwijaya Air, Lion Air and Batavia Air at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Jakarta.

The inspection team found several technical faults such as loose screws on a Lion Air plane's underbelly.

"The screws were immediately screwed back into place, to prevent metal slabs from coming off the plane's underside," he said.

Last year, six metal slabs from a Batavia Air plane fell and damaged roofs in Tangerang, Banten province, during its flight.

Thursday's inspection also revealed broken emergency lights meant to guide passengers to the plane's exits.

The team also found several planes with malfunctioning auxiliary power units.

"Any malfunction of this unit will force the plane to use ground power for takeoff.

"This will need to be fixed within 10 days or the plane will have to be grounded," Yurlis explained.

He added some of the planes that were checked Thursday had been used for more than 20 years, especially the Boeing 737-200 types.

Boeing 737 planes feature prominently in the litany of Indonesian aircraft accidents.

Besides the 2007 Adam Air case, a Boeing 737 belonging to the country's flag carrier Garuda Indonesia crash-landed in Yogyakarta in March that same year, killing 21 passengers.

The latest Boeing 737 case was the emergency landing of a Sriwijaya Air plane at Hang Nadim Airport in Batam, its journey cut short by engine failure.

Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal commented earlier this week that the ministry had advised Sriwijaya to replace its outdated Boeing 737-200 planes with newer models before the accident occurred.

The minister also called for higher taxes to be imposed on old planes, in an attempt to shorten the average working period of the country's aircraft to 15 years from the current 35 years. (dis)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

'It Sounded Like Thunder, Then All Hell Broke Loose'

The Jakarta Globe, Nivell Rayda & Muningar Sri Saraswati, March 28, 2009

See Also: The Situ Gintung Disaster: Special Coverage from the Jakarta Globe

“It sounded like thunder, and moments later all hell broke loose,” said Rachman, whose home is near the Situ Gintung reservoir, recounting the moment in the dark early hours of Friday when part of the high mound of earthen embankment at the northeastern end of the reservoir suddenly crumbled, sending water gushing down into the natural valley below.

Rachman, whose home was spared by the flash flood, said that he and other residents had been worriedly watching the bank of the reservoir as the water level was nearing the brim following recent rains in the area and in upstream regions.

“At about midnight [Friday], water levels almost reached the edge of the dike,” Rachman said.

“Residents saw that water was already leaking [from the bank] and it gradually got worse.”

A roughly 20-meter pan of the embankment finally crumbled under the pressure of the water at about 4 a.m.

The Situ Gintung dike, built by the Dutch more than 76 years ago, retained some two million cubic meters of water in the 21-hectare reservoir. Cracks had already become noticeable in the embankment there about a year ago, the local urban ward leader said.

Water gushing through the breach left the reservoir almost empty in just about 10 minutes. Rachman said he watched helplessly, and in horror, from a height as a torrent swept everything clear from its path.

The raging water swept through houses, most of them semi-permanent, and residential areas along its path before its force found a channel into the Pesanggrahan River about a kilometer away.

It destroyed hundreds of houses in three densely packed neighborhoods in Cireundeu, an urban ward in Banten Province with a population of around 30,000.

Most of the victims were caught in their sleep. An 8-year-old boy, Ferry, miraculously survived the flood and was found in his wet pajamas atop his neighbor’s roof. His mother and younger sister were found dead later, while his father and an elder brother remained missing .

Early risers were not spared. Many women had left long before dawn broke to shop at the main traditional market in Ciputat, about 2.5 kilometers away.

At about 7 a.m., one of the women returning from the market screamed hysterically as she discovered that her house was gone and her two sleeping little children missing.

“It should have been me, it should have been me,” she wailed.

Rescue teams rushing to the area were hindered by the thick sludge deposited by the water after the floods subsided, as well as piles of debris.

Dead bodies were still being found well into the afternoon, some inside houses still inundated. By late Friday at least 58 people had been found dead. Rescue and evacuation efforts were also hampered by the small and winding alleys in the slums surrounding the affected areas.

The water, flushing into the Pesanggrahan River, caused flooding as far away as the Rempoa area of South Jakarta, about four kilometers away from Situ Gintung, and cut off traffic on the Ciputat main road, inundating an important bridge there.

Temporary shelters and operational centers were set up at two private universities in the area, and most of the dead found were sent there for identification and for their families to claim. Others were sent to the Fatmawati General Hospital about 30 minutes away.

The three venues were packed with people looking for their missing relatives, checking bodies laid on the floor and covered by thin blankets or batik cloths.

Top government officials, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Aburizal Bakrie, Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto and others, all converged on the site in order to be briefed on the disaster and to issue directives.

The officials pledged to help the survivors rebuild their homes and to construct a stronger embankment. Situ Gintung acts as one of the main fresh water reservoirs for the city.

Related Articles:

Fifty-six lakes around Jakarta vanished in past five years

Death toll dam burst climbs to 69

22 missing in collapsing dam incident

President instructs reconstruction of Situ Gintung dam

Govt to hand over cash aid for collapsed dam victims

Friday, March 27, 2009

Govt mulls higher taxation on aging planes

The Jakarta Post | Fri, 03/27/2009 8:10 PM

Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal said his ministry was considering proposing a higher tax on aging airplanes than on newer ones.

"Ideally, aging planes should be subject to higher taxes. This is expected to indirectly discourage the use of aging fleets and make airline companies aware of the fact that using old planes is inefficient," the minister said in Jakarta as quoted by Antara newswire on Friday.

The minister made the statement in connection with the frequent occurrence of accidents involving old planes of late.

Last Wednesday, a B737-200 passenger plane of Batavia Air developed a leak in one of its engines forcing it to cancel its take off from Soekartno-Hatta airport.

On March 23, a plane of the same type of Sriwijaya Air made an emergency landing at Hang Nadim Aiport, Batam, after one of its engines failed.

But the minister did not say when the progressive tax on old airplanes would be imposed. "This is an option. We want planes operated in Indonesia to have a maximal age of 21 years," the minister said.

He said it would be better if Indonesia could follow the example of Singapore where every plane which had been in operation for five years was 'put to rest'.

Djamal said that his ministry was encouraging airline companies to merge in an effort to avoid stiff competition among them.

"Ideally, Indonesia should only have seven airline firms with a fleet of 400 airplanes," the minister said.

JICA Loan For MRT On Track

The Jakarta Globe, Muhamad Al Azhari, March 26, 2009

The development of Jakarta’s long-delayed mass rapid transportation system, or MRT, appears to be gathering steam, with a Finance Ministry document revealing that Indonesia and the Japan International Cooperation Agency are set to sign a deal on Tuesday that would set aside 48.15 billion yen ($491 million) in low-interest loans for the project.

The deal represents part of JICA’s 120-billion-yen commitment to finance 85 percent of the transportation system, which the municipal government hopes would help solve the capital’s traffic problems.

The funds from JICA are being provided under the Special Terms for Economic Partnership, a soft loan scheme, and will be divided into four disbursements.

The first tranche, agreed to in June, amounts to 1.86 billion yen. On Wednesday, the central government gave 758 million yen as part of this tranche to the Jakarta administration to pay for consulting services and an equity stake in PT Mass Rapid Transport Jakarta, which will develop and operate the project.

“This grant shows the commitment of the central and local governments to develop infrastructure amid the global [financial] crisis,” Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo said at a ceremony to mark the release of the grant to the Jakarta administration at the Finance Ministry’s headquarters.

“We expect this project will progress smoothly and that people will reap the benefits,” Fauzi added. “Having [the MRT] in our city is not just a dream. This is real and it should be available as soon as possible.”

The first part of the MRT is expected to link Lebak Bulus in South Jakarta to Dukuh Atas in Central Jakarta with a 14.5 kilometer rail network built both underneath and above the ground.

The second part will connect Dukuh Atas to Kota, also in Central Jakarta, and the third will link East and West Jakarta. Both the second and third phases are still undergoing feasibility studies.

Unlike Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok and other regional capitals, Jakarta has no subway or light-rail system, resulting in the city’s trademark traffic jams.

The idea of building an MRT system in Jakarta was first put forth in the 1980s. Former President Suharto’s government also pushed unsuccessfully for the project in 1995. The proposal was revived by former Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso in 2002, but it was not until 2006 that JICA and the government finally agreed on funding and logistics.

Another mass transport project, the Jakarta monorail, has been in limbo since financing fell through in late 2007.

And despite the recent progress on the MRT system, Jakarta residents may still have to wait a while.

Tenders for the project may not begin until the end of 2010, with construction not scheduled to start until early 2011. The system itself is expected to be operational by early 2016.

Related Article:

Finance Minister: People still waiting for MRT

Minister Reveals Price Probe over Merpati Deal

The Jakarta Globe, Janeman Latul, March 26, 2009

The Merpati-Xi’an fiasco appears to have soured trade ties between Indonesia and China. (Courtesy of Xi’an Aircraft Industry Co.)

The central government will investigate possible corruption involving markups on 15 aircraft bought in a deal worth $231 million between state-owned carrier PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines and Chinese Xi’an Aircraft Industry Co., Sofyan Djalil, the state-owned enterprises minister, said on Wednesday.

Sofyan said the government’s probe would be part of the process of resolving the stalled deal with the Chinese company.

“I think we will seek further details about the prices of the planes before we come to a conclusion,” he said. “I don’t know the details yet [on the prices] but it must be explained.”

“But let’s not come to a hasty conclusion,” he said, adding that the Merpati-Xian deal also included options for spare parts supplies during the next three years, including flight simulators, which could mean the price would be higher than normal.

Merpati agreed to purchase 15 MA-60s in 2006 using a soft loan facility provided by the Chinese government. However, Merpati, saddled with serious financial problems, never followed through on its purchasing commitments.

Xi’an has already threatened to take Merpati to international arbitration in Singapore to recover $90 million in damages from the now-frozen deal, souring bilateral relations between China and Indonesia. The deal has also been blamed for postponing loans of about $5 billion from Chinese banks for the government’s fast-track electricity program.

The 56-seater aircraft has been exported to various countries. And according to Kathmandu-based Nepalitimes, Royal Nepal Airlines paid only $11 million per plane for two aircraft in mid-2005 and got another for free.

Recently, Drajad H. Wibowo, a senior member of the House of Representatives’ Commission XI, which oversees the state budget, called for a corruption investigation into the stalled purchases.

“This issue needs to be investigated by many parties, including the Corruption Eradication Commission,” he said. “I have asked the government to fully scrutinize all foreign loans because most of them involved [illegal] markups.”

Meanwhile, a source within the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry said he suspected that officials at the Finance Ministry, Merpati, the National Development Planning Board, or Bappenas, and Xi’an had colluded to mark up the price of the aircraft.

He based his suspicions on the deal’s high cost.

“The normal price for an MA-60 is about $11 million, but we accepted $15 million [per plane],” he said. “That’s outrageous.”

Hotasi Nababan, the former president director of Merpati who signed the deal back in 2006, told the Jakarta Globe recently that he did not wish to comment on the issue and would leave the matter to the team in charge of restructuring the purchase.

Meanwhile, Sahala Lumban Gaol, head of the negotiating team for Merpati who traveled to Beijing last week with Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Trade Minister Mari Pangestu, said the talks to settle the deal were in an “advanced phase” where both parties had to prepare the options for a settlement.

“However, I cannot reveal the options now, as we are still in negotiations,” he said, adding that his team would find a win-win solution for Merpati and Xi’an.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

IBM Jumps on the High-Speed Rail to China

Fastcompany, BY Ariel Schwartz, Wed Mar 25, 2009 at 1:50 PM

Oil prices may not be rising quite as dramatically as they were a year ago, but mass transportation--and more specifically, high-speed rail--is still growing in scope and importance. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), three quarters of G-20 countries (including France, China, Germany, Indonesia, and Italy) plan to increase funding for transportation infrastructure. And since the cornerstone of any successful transportation network is reliable computer technology, it's not surprising to hear that IBM is jumping on the high-speed rail train.

The computer giant announced plans today for high-speed rail projects in China, Taiwan, and the Netherlands. IBM will be responsible for managing maintenance, logistics, and IT needs in the China and Taiwan projects, while the Netherlands will rely on the company for resource utilization. It's not a small job.

In the Netherlands, IBM will oversee nearly 5,000 trains passing through a network of 279 stations. The Guangzhou Metro Corporation (GZ Metro) transports 2 million passengers per day across 60 stations, and is investing $1.76 billion this year to expand the network.

All of this is great news for denizens of these three countries, but what about those of us in the United States? When do we get our fancy high-speed rail lines? Relatively soon, if the U.S. government's $8 billion in rail-line stimulus funds goes ahead as planned. And when we do get our high-speed rail, IBM is likely to be a part of it. The company, which manages Amtrak's reservation system, is already angling for a chunk of the stimulus money. In the end, IBM might be known more for its ubiquitous transportation software than its consumer technology.

Finance Minister: People still waiting for MRT

Jakarta (
ANTARA News) - Acting Minister Coordinating the Economy/Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the Jakarta mass rapid transport (MRT) is being awaited by the people, so that the Jakarta City Administration needs to seriously realize the infrastructure project.

"It is no use to have a governor as an engineer if he is incapable of solving the transportation problems in the capital city," Sri Mulyani said during a ceremony of signing an agreement on a government grant for the Jakarta city administration at her office on Wednesday afternoon.

The agreement was signed by Financial Balance Director General at the Finance Ministry Mardiasmo and Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo.

Sri Mulyani said actually Indonesia has joined the groups of countries with a middle per capita income in the world, but still without a reliable mass transport facility.

Monday, March 23, 2009

World's cheapest car is launched

BBC News, 23 March 2009

The Tata Nano, the world's cheapest car, is being launched in India.

Costing just 100,000 rupees ($1,979; £1,366), the Nano is due to go on sale across India over the next 10 days.

Tata hopes the 10 feet (3 metre) long, five-seater car will be cheap enough to encourage millions of Indians to trade up from their motorcycles.

Tata owner Ratan Tata has described the launch as a "milestone". Analysts say it will take the firm up to six years to make a profit from the Nano.

Factory row

The four-door Nano has a 33bhp, 624cc engine at the rear.

The basic model has no airbags, air conditioning, radio, or power steering. However, more luxurious versions will be available.

A slightly bigger European version, the Nano Europa is due to follow in 2011, and is expected to cost nearer to £4,000.

Analysts said that if the car proves an immediate hit in its home market, Tata may struggle to meet demand.

This is because the main Nano factory in the western state of Gujarat, which will be able to build 250,000 cars a year, is not due to open until next year.

In the meantime, Tata will only be able to build about 50,000 Nanos at its existing plants.

The delay happened when Tata had to abandon plans to build the Nano in a new plant in the eastern state of West Bengal due to a row over land acquired from farmers.

This caused the launch of the Nano to be put back by six months.


Tata's managing director Ravi Kant said that bookings for the car will start on 9 April, and that a ballot will then select the first 100,000 people to get their Nano.

Deliveries will then begin from July.

"I think we are at the gates of offering a new form of transport to the people of India and later, I hope, other markets elsewhere in the world," Mr Rata told reporters gathered for the launch.

Even if Tata can sell 250,000 models a year, it will add only 3% to the firm's revenues, says Vaishali Jajoo, auto analyst at Mumbai's Angel Broking.

"That doesn't make a significant difference to the top line," he said.

"And for the bottom line, it will take five to six years to break even."

Yet with seven million motorcycles sold last year in India, Tata is eying a huge marketplace for the Nano.

Like almost all global carmakers, Tata has seen sales fall as the global economic downturn has continued.

The firm made a 2.63bn rupees loss for three months between October and December.

In addition, Tata is struggling to refinance the remaining £2bn of its £3bn loan it took out to buy the Jaguar and Land Rover brands from Ford in June of last year.

Minister says RI, China may settle Merpati contract soon

Mustaqim Adamrah, THE JAKARTA POST, JAKARTA | Mon, 03/23/2009 1:22 PM

The government is expecting the protracted contract dispute between ailing state airline company PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines and China's Xi'an Aircraft Industry can be settled this week, State Minister for State Enterprises Sofyan Djalil says.

"We still need more discussions; between Merpati and Xi'an; and between the Indonesian government and the Chinese government," Sofyan told The Jakarta Post recently.

"We're settling this problem. We hope to resolve this by next week (this week) and hope no more talks are required. We'll announce the result next week (this week)," he said.

Acting Coordinating Minister for the Economy Sri Mulyani Indrawati flew to China Wednesday to resolve several problems hampering China's pledge to finance the country's 10,000 megawatt power projects.

These problems include the contract disputes with China and Xi'an.

The dispute started in 2008 when Merpati failed to honor its commitment to pay up US$230 million for the purchase of 15 Xinzhou-60 aircraft, at a price of around $15 million each.

The commitment was stipulated in a contract Merpati signed in 2006 with Xi'an. Merpati used a soft-loan facility from the China Export Import Bank to finance the purchase.

Partly due to its financial problems, Merpati is now placed under a financial restructuring program run by the Asset Management Company (PPA).

Xi'an has said it might take the dispute to international arbitration.

With Merpati's "huge" debts, the dispute apparently widened to the extent that there was growing speculation that the row between Merpati and Xi'an may have played a part in holding back loan disbursements for the 10,000 MW projects led by state power company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN).

Chinese lenders would be likely to stick to their positions until the Merpati debts are settled.

Since there were no other options open, Merpati and PLN finally passed on the dispute to the government for settlement.

"Merpati already has had business-to-business negotiations with Xi'an four times (to settle the dispute). But there were no agreements on some points (in our negotiations)," Merpati president director Bambang Bhakti said, after a meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla at the vice president's office Friday.

"So, this will go back to government-to-government (talks)," he said, adding the company would only be able to pay for eight aircraft.

"We start making an operating profit but we're still on our way to recover. How are we going to repay our debts?" he said refusing to elaborate.

A presidential palace source said the government would now cover half of the Merpati debts to Xi'an.

PLN president director Fahmi Mochtar has now ensured that Chinese financiers would stick to their commitment to help fund the power projects. The crash energy program needs $8 billion to be completed. PLN has so far secured $6.4 billion.

International airline passengers may dip

Mustaqim Adamrah, THE JAKARTA POST, JAKARTA | Mon, 03/23/2009 1:23 PM

Indonesian airline companies may carry fewer international passengers during the first quarter of the year as people travel less due to a combination of the normal low season cycle and the deepening global economic crisis, an association says.

Chairman of the Indonesia National Air Carriers Association (INACA) Emirsyah Satar told The Jakarta Post recently that people are tending to travel to nearby areas and regions as they have less money.

Because of changed preferences, Emirsyah forecast that less than 1 million international passengers would be recorded between January and March, or a slight decline compared to the same period of last year when there were also around 1 million passengers.

Based on passengers carried by the state airline company Garuda Indonesia, Emirsyah said there was a decrease in the number of passengers from Europe and the United States to Indonesia because of the crisis.

However, there was an increase in the number of travelers from China and South Korea, he added.

"These passengers, we can say, used to fly to Europe and the United States," he said.

Around 5 million to 6 million international travelers enter Indonesia every year, according to Emirsyah.

Of that number, 250,000 passengers are from China, 500,000 from Japan, and 300,000 to 350,000 passengers from Korea, he said, adding there had not yet been any projection for the expected increase in the number of passengers from China, Japan and South Korea into Indonesia, nor of the anticipated decrease in passengers from Europe and the United States.

According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), 473,165 foreign tourists were recorded in January this year, a 8.04 percent jump from 437,966 in January last year. The January figure is a 22.49 percent drop from the 610,452 booked in December last year.

The BPS also recorded 6.23 million foreign tourists arrivals last year, up by 13.24 percent from 5.51 million in 2007.

Despite a projected slight decline in international passengers, Emirsyah, however, believed that the country would see a new expanding market in passengers from China.

"There's a big opportunity from China, which records around 48 million international trips every year," he said.

"China's economy, even though it is also declining, is still relatively good compared to other countries. It will be nice if we can have a slice of that (market opportunity),"

Emirsyah earlier said local airlines could be severely affected by the crisis, with their revenues likely to grow not more than 10 percent this year, contrasted to more normal 15 to 20 percent achieved during the past four years.

These local airlines, he said, would now have to rely on domestic flights to maintain their businesses.

Indonesian airlines have been able to maintain their load factor by an average of 80 percent last year. This year's load factor is forecast to work out the same as for last year.

Last year, Indonesia had 14 airlines operating 739 airplanes, a 36 percent increase on the 542 planes available for services in 2007. These airlines serve 167 domestic routes connecting 87 cities.

According to the Transportation Ministry, domestic passenger numbers last year reached 46 million, up by 18 percent from 39 million in the previous year (2007).

Plane crash in Montana cemetary kills seven kids, 14 people total


Guidoni/Montana Standard/Getty

A small, singe-engine plane burst into flames in Holy Cross Cemetery just south of Butte, Montana. All 14 people on board were killed, many of them children, federal aviation officials said.

Fourteen people, including seven children, heading for a ski trip died Sunday when their single-engine plane crashed into a Montana graveyard and burst into a fireball, federal officials said.

The aircraft, a 2001 Pilatus PC-12 with the seating capacity of only eight, nosedived into the Holy Cross Cemetery in Butte, 500 feet short of the airport, officials said.

"All of a sudden the pilot lost control and went into a nosedive," witness Kenny Gulick, 14, told The Montana Standard newspaper. "He couldn't pull out in time and crashed into the trees of the cemetery."

Citing preliminary information, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said everyone killed in the 2:30 p.m. crash was aboard the plane. There were no reports of injuries on the ground.

The turboprop plane had taken off from the small northern California town of Oroville about 11 a.m. and was taking passengers on a Montana ski vacation, said FAA spokesman Mike Fergus.

"We think that it was probably a ski trip for the kids," Fergus said.

According to a flight plan, the plane was headed to Bozeman, Mont., about 85 miles from Butte.

During the course of the 900-mile trip, the pilot canceled his flight plan and headed for Butte, Fergus said.

It was not immediately clear if the problems with the aircraft caused the pilot to divert from his original route.

Witness Steve Guidoni said he and his wife rushed to the crash site after seeing the plane plummet from the sky and explode into a fireball that sent flames shooting above the trees of the cemetery.

"I looked to see if there was anybody I could pull out, but there wasn't anything there. I couldn't see anything," he said. "There was some luggage strewn around ... there was some plane parts."

The plane originated from Redlands, near Los Angeles, and made a stop in Vacaville in the Bay Area, before heading to Oroville, according to the flight-tracking site

Tom Hagler, a mechanic at the Oroville airport, told The Sacramento Bee that he allowed several children ages 6 to 10 to use the airport bathroom before they boarded the doomed plane.

"There were a lot of kids in the group," he said, "a lot of really cute kids."

Ukrainian plane skids off runway in Istanbul

The Jakarta Post, Associated Press, Ankara | Mon, 03/23/2009 5:13 PM

A Ukrainian plane with 44 passengers and crew on board skidded off the runway after landing at Istanbul's Ataturk airport on Monday, reports said. No one was injured.

Television footage showed the Embraer ERJ145 of the Dniproavia aviation company leaning on its nose sevral meters (yards) from the runway.

All 44 passengers and crew were evacuated safely, the state-run Anatolia news agency said.

The private Dogan news agency said the plane's front landing gear was stuck in mud.

The cause of the accident was under investigation.

Sriwijaya flight makes emergency landing in Batam

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 03/23/2009 11:49 AM

Sriwijaya Air flight SJ309 made an emergency landing at Batam's Hang Nadim airport Monday morning after reporting engine problems, tempointeraktif. com reported.

The Jakarta-bound plane was carrying 116 passengers, including one child and six aircrew, when it left Tanjungpinang.

"We heard a big bang coming from the left engine of the plane. All passengers panicked and started praying," passenger Dian Nusa said.

Head of Hang Nadim's Aviation Safety Elfi Amir confirmed that the Sriwijaya plane had experienced trouble in its left engine, but the source was yet to be determined.

"What's certain is that the plane was in good condition when it left Tanjungpinang. The plane is currently grounded until it receives certification from the air transport department.

A Hang Nadim field officer said the airport received news of the engine trouble from Singapore's Air Traffic Controller.

Upon receiving the news, airport officials proceeded in guiding the plane as it made an emergency landing. (amr)

Burning plane

The Jakarta Post, Associated Press | Mon, 03/23/2009 3:04 PM

Firefighters and bulldozer try to dismantle fuselage of a burnt cargo plane at Narita Airport in Narita, Monday. The plane burst into flames after bouncing off a runway in unusually high winds, killing the pilot and copilot. (AP/Shuji Kajiyama)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jetstar to double Perth-Singapore capacity

The Business Times, Ven Sreenivasan, Sat, Mar 21, 2009

(SINGAPORE) Australia's Jetstar has announced new connections to Singapore via its Indonesian services to Denpasar and Jakarta.

From July 14, Jetstar will operate its existing four-times weekly Perth-Denpasar (Bali) and three-times weekly Perth-Jakarta A320 services onwards to Singapore and return.

All services will commence and terminate in Perth, with the same flight number in each direction.

Jetstar - a Qantas-owned sister carrier of Singapore-based Jetstar Asia - said that the timing of the new Singapore connections will provide north-bound connectivity for passengers flying with Qantas to and from Singapore on to Frankfurt and London. They will also provide a same-day north-bound connection to Mumbai with Qantas from Singapore.

The new connections are in addition to Jetstar's daily, direct Perth-Singapore A320 flight introduced in December last year.

Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan said that the extra services from Perth to Singapore support Jetstar's plan to develop the West Australian capital as a hub in its evolving pan-Asian strategy.

The services effectively double Jetstar's existing capacity into Singapore from Perth, and more importantly, provide Australian and international travellers with a seamless northbound connection out of Singapore.

'Our future introduction of inter-line ticketing, initially through Qantas, as well as planned future inter-line and ticket settlement agreements with leading Asian and European international carriers, will also provide future stimulus to these flights and likely, down-the-line benefits to the Western Australian tourism industry,' Mr Buchanan said.

Last week, Jetstar announced the establishment of a pilot base in Perth to support the growth of its international services and growing footprint in and near Asia.

Jetstar's Perth-Denpasar-Singapore and Perth-Jakarta-Singapore services are now available through

Saturday, March 21, 2009

25,806 roads users get tickets in seven days

The Jakarta Post, Sat, 03/21/2009 2:21 PM

JAKARTA: The police issued 25,806 tickets to people violating road regulations during an operation conducted several days before the campaign period, an official reported Friday.

Most of the tickets handed out during Operation Patuh Jaya, 14,201, were given to motorcyclists.

"Public minivans followed with 9,988 tickets," director of Jakarta Police traffic division, Sr. Comr. Condro Kirono, told reporters.

During the operation carried out between March 8 to 14, officers confiscated 9,939 driver's licenses (SIM), 15,356 vehicle ownership documents (STNK) and 511 vehicles.

The operation deployed 3,206 traffic police officers from the city headquarters, municipality and districts precincts. - JP

Car terminal expansion project on track

Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, JAKARTA | Sat, 03/21/2009 1:04 PM

Going up in the world: Busy cranes and ships at the Tanjung Priok port in North Jakarta. On Friday state port operator PT Pelindo II said that despite a gloomy forecast outlook for Indonesia’s car industry, the construction work on the new extension to the car terminal at the Tanjung Priok port, under pressure for more space to be made available, is already 80 percent completed and the job is likely to be finished in April, one month ahead of schedule. (JP/Ricky Yudhistira)

Despite a gloomy outlook for Indonesia’s car industry amid the global economic downturn, the expansion of the car terminal at the Tanjung Priok port in North Jakarta is not slowing down and is set for completion within the next two months now that almost 80 percent of the works are completed.

State seaport operator PT Pelindo II said it had finished 79.85 percent of the construction so far and may even finish all the project in April, a month earlier than the initial target.

“We are asked to expedite the construction, and our contractor Hutama Karya says it can finish its work by April,” Pelindo II president director Abdullah Saefuddin said when welcoming Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who was inspecting the progress of the construction of the new car terminal.

Kalla was accompanied by Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal, State Minister for State-Owned Enterprises Sofyan Djalil and Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro.

Saefuddin said Pelindo II was expanding the area of the car terminal, which was first inaugurated on Nov. 29, 2007, by an additional 5 hectares.

Currently, the car terminal spans 12 hectares and can accommodate 3,500 cars. The 5-hectare addition will mean that it will be able to accommodate another 2,500 cars.

Saefuddin said Pelindo II was now even ready to start on the second phase of its expansion plan.

“We’re ready to start our second expansion project of 3.6 ha, located in Kali Baru,” he said.

“The Jakarta administration has started acquiring the land,” he said.

Pelindo II plans to eventually expand the car terminal up to 40 hectares, according to Saefuddin.

The expansion is necessary, he said, because car exports and imports through the Tanjung Priok port would continue to increase and would reach 550,000 units by 2011, since the current economic slowdown would only be temporary.

He said that the expansion was also on the specific request of Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, as well as other port users.

“Yard Occupancy Ratio stood at above 90 percent in the last three months,” Saefuddin said.

Through the port, 99,655 cars were exported and 88,435 cars were imported in 2008, while 15,358 cars were exported and 4,294 cars were imported from the beginning of the year to last Monday, according to Pelindo II data.

The automotive industry is facing hard times amid the global economic downturn, which has severely hit global demand and forced giant global car makers to shut down and layoff, or even dismiss, their workers.

According to Indonesian Automotive Industry Association (Gaikindo) data, car sales reached 66,136 in the first two months this year, a drop of 25.6 percent from 88,887 recorded in the same period last year.

Gaikindo vice chairman Johnny Darmawan had forecast that car sales will plunge 26.1 percent in the first quarter this year, compared to the same quarter last year.

Emirates jet makes emergency landing in Australia

The Jakarta Post, The Associated Press, Melbourne, Australia | Sat, 03/21/2009 2:29 PM

An Emirates jetliner carrying more than 225 people slammed its tail into the runway as it took off from Australia, sending smoke into the cabin and forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing, officials said Saturday.

No one was hurt, but passengers described being terrified after learning something was wrong soon after the Airbus A340 took off from the southern city of Melbourne about 10:30 p.m. Friday, bound for Dubai.

After the strike, which reportedly left debris strewn on the runway and knocked out some runway lights, the pilot flew over the sea, dumping fuel, before returning to the airport and landing without incident.

"We did land successfully, thankfully, and the plane was surrounded by paramedics and fire engines," passenger Catherine Edmunds told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "It was terrifying. I'd hate to go through it again."

The ABC said crew noticed smoke in the cabin during the roughly 45 minutes the plane was in the air.

The Dubai-based airline said in a statement that a safety inspection team was being rushed to Melbourne to investigate the incident, and that it regretted any inconvenience caused to passengers.

Australian aviation authorities were also investigating.

"We will be looking at the flight data records, getting data off that, interviewing the crew, interviewing the company representatives, inspecting the runway and aircraft," Australian Transport Safety Bureau spokesman Ian Brokenshire said.

He said such incidents where known in the industry as "tail hits" and were caused by a number of factors such as the angle of takeoff, weather conditions and loading issues.

"It is a hazard, particularly on the longer aircraft," he said.

The passengers were put on other flights to Dubai.

Bus crews told not to leave public stranded

Triwik Kurniasari, The Jakarta Post, JAKARTA | Sat, 03/21/2009 10:39 AM

Gridlock: A police officer directs traffic on Jl. Asia Afrika in Central Jakarta on Friday. The traffic was brought to a stand-still as supporters of The Democratic Party flocked to a rally at Bung Karno Stadium. (JP/Arief Suhardiman)

The Jakarta chapter of the Organization of Land Transportation Owners (Organda) has called on public transportation operators not to rent their vehicles out for political campaigns, saying they should prioritize public passengers.

TR Panjaitan, secretary of Organda, said he received complaints that many passengers were stranded due the lack of buses during campaign rallies.

“Public needs should come first. The problem is, sometimes bus operators do not even know that their fleets are rented to political parties.”

“The parties usually come to the bus drivers to rent the buses for rallies, and not the owners of the buses.

“And the drivers will usually take the offers because the money is much more than would earn from a normal days work,” he said on Friday.

During the public campaign period, political parties will stage rallies everyday in each province across the country. The parties usually rent buses and bus crews to transport supporters to campaign venues or using them in motorcades.

He said his office would monitor every campaign venue to reprimand bus crews that neglect their duty.

Panjaitan however acknowledged that it is beyond Organda’s authority to impose sanctions.

Riza Hasyim, from the transportation agency, said his office could not penalize the bus operators.

“We don’t have the right to forbid them not to rent their buses for campaign rallies. The decision is fully on the bus operators’,” Riza said, adding, “We just hope that bus operators will use their reserve buses instead of the regular ones.”

Panjaitan said parties should use charter buses. “We have about 1,500 buses. But they [those parties] might be reluctant to rent those buses since they are costlier.”

In other developments on transportation issues, the administration said Friday that it would impose stricter sanctions on illegal on-street parking in the capital, saying it will also revise the bylaw on parking.

“The current parking bylaw imposes lenient sanctions. We need a stricter one,” Governor Fauzi Bowo said Friday. “Cities in the U.S., for instance, not only fine violators, but they also tow and seize the cars.”

“This is a good and effective way of enforcing parking bylaws. We will think of some ways like that to implement the ruling,” Fauzi said.