Airport development projects will be one of the priorities of the Transportation Ministry next year, including the finalization of ongoing expansion projects at three international airports, and constructing up to 31 smaller airports.
The three international airports being upgraded are Kuala Namu International Airport in Medan, North Sumatra, Lombok International Airport in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, and Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport in Makassar, South Sulawesi - with a combined project value of more than Rp 5 trillion (US$509 million).
The ministry’s director of airports, Bambang Tjahjono, said over the weekend that the completion of these projects was urgent and would play vital roles in the economy, both in those regions and the nation as a whole.
“Lombok Airport, for example, will act as buffer for Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport, which is already very busy,” Tjahjono said in an interview.
Lombok is a resort island situated around 70 kilometers east of the world-famous island of Bali.
With a 2,750-meter runway, Lombok Airport will be suitable for larger aircraft such as the Boeing 747, Tjahjono said.
The Lombok Airport complex is built on a 551-hectare plot of land, which is almost twice the size of Ngurah Rai. The project is estimated to cost Rp 802 billion, which is being jointly funded by state airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I and local provincial and regional administrations.
The project has been accelerated, with the government hoping to make it partly open for the public between December or January at the latest.
To the west, Medan’s Kuala Namu Airport is scheduled to be opened next year, following several delays triggered mostly by land acquisition problems.
“However, all the required land has been cleared. We are now stabilizing the land before beginning the construction of the 3,750-meter twin runways,” Tjahjono said.
With a 6.5-hectare passenger terminal, the airport will be the country’s second-largest airport after Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
The runway construction alone, funded by the state budget, is anticipated to cost up to Rp 1.2 trillion, with an overall cost of Rp 4.4 trillion.
“The passenger terminal and other facilities are the responsibility of PT Angkasa Pura II,” he said.
The construction of Kuala Namu began in 2006 and was targeted to replace Polonia International Airport that is situated near the centre of Medan and has a difficult takeoff path because of its short runway.
Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport project in Makassar is now around 80 percent complete and is scheduled to be fully operational by 2010.
“Overall, the airport is 80 percent complete. We are now finalizing some minor infrastructure elements and facilities,” Tjahjono said. The 52,000-square-meter airport, the largest airbase in Sulawesi, can accommodate up to 8 million passengers per year.
In addition to the expansion of airports in those three cities, the government also plans to construct and develop 31 smaller airports across Indonesia.
“Most of the smaller airports will be funded by local administrations. The central government is only approving their proposals,” Tjahjono said. (bbs)