National

Ngurah Rai airport to be
expanded

State-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I will expand both the domestic and international terminals of Denpasar's Ngurah Rai International Airport to turn it into one of the best tourism airports in the world, an official said Monday.

"Expansion work will be carried out on both the domestic and international terminals, but not on the airport's runway," said Heru Legowo, head of PT Angkasa Pura I's Bali office.

Under the expansion project, the total area of the domestic and international terminals will be increased from the current 83,000 square meters to about 200,000 square meters, with 130,000 square meters for the international terminal and 70,000 for the domestic terminal.

At present, the international terminal measures 70,000 square meters, while the domestic terminal measures 13,000 square meters.

Heru added the project was expected to also increase the airport's passenger handling capacity from the current 10 million per year to 16 million.

The project is estimated to cost up to Rp 1 trillion (US$110.10 million). The existing domestic terminal will be altered into the international terminal, while the international terminal will become the domestic one, he said.

"The project plan was proposed to the office of the State Minister for State Enterprises... We are awaiting its approval," he said.

"It's not easy to attain the status of one of the best tourism airports in the world. We have to work hard, and this expansion project is one of our approaches to realizing it," Heru added, saying the project would be completed within three years.

"We hope to have an airport with more spacious terminals by 2011," he said.

He added the project would focus on the relocation of several official houses owned by PT Angkasa Pura I, located in the northern part of the airport.

The airport terminal expansion plan was warmly hailed by Ngurah Wijaya, head of the Bali Tourism Board, who said existing facilities were inadequate for tourists.

The mushrooming of retail outlets in the narrow terminal has given visitors a bad first impression, he said, adding that they made the existing terminals "look more like a mall than an airport".

"We need a more spacious and comfortable airport with many more seats," he said.

Wijaya said the project was very important to guarantee convenience, badly needed by the airport as the island's main gateway.

"The first impression most tourists get, whether good or bad, is from the airport," he said.

"If their first impression is bad, the tourists will not feel comfortable for the rest of their stay in Bali."

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