Business

Ngurah Rai airport to get
multi-million-dollar face-lift

This is the fourth part in a series on problems and opportunities for Indonesian airports.

The island of Bali is a holiday maker’s dream, complete with pristine beaches, terraced rice fields, rich culture and traditions and luxurious accommodation — that is once you get past the airport.

The following are comments from foreigners who visited Bali as posted by several renowned airport review agencies.

Andreas Dubiella from Germany arrived at Ngurah Rai International Airport in early August. “It was a horrible experience — I waited one hour at immigration. On top of that, they take US$25 in visa fees from you to come into the country and $15 in tax to leave the country.”

“Therefore you get an old ugly airport and chaotic surroundings. For me, this kind of treatment is
unacceptable at a popular tourist destination.”

Paul Meerman from the Netherlands expressed a similar point of view. “On arrival we found horrifying lines at immigration. For more than one hour we stood in line, and the hall was totally over crowded.”

The airport, Meerman said, needed a major face-lift and to think of new ways to manage tourists.

The some 2 million foreigners that visit Bali via Ngurah Rai International Airport every year likely have had similar experiences.

It is feared the airport’s dreadful reputation could tarnish Bali’s image as a world-class holiday
destination.

The number of arrivals to the airport per day during the off season is just lower than arrivals to Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at about 13,000 people. However, that number can double during peak season.

Former vice president Jusuf Kalla has proposed a massive overhaul of the airport’s facilities.

To help cope with traveller numbers and improve facilities at the airport, a Rp 2.3 trillion (US$255 million) renovation project will commence this year.

Heru Legowo, general manager of Perusahaan Angkasa Pura (PAP) I state-owned airport management company, described the detailed renovation plan, which includes expanding the domestic and international terminals and renovating the airport’s interior and exterior.

Legowo said that over the last 10 years passenger numbers at the airport had increased dramatically.

In 2000, the airport recorded 43,797 domestic and international flights, carrying 4,443,856 passengers.

The number increased to 76,797 flights carrying 9,625, 433 passengers in 2009.

During school and religious holidays, such as Idul Fitri, passenger numbers can increase by at least
10 percent.

For the upcoming Idul Fitri holidays, the airport will receive an additional 87 flight services from a number of domestic destinations.

“Therefore, the renovation and expansion of Ngurah Rai airport is urgently needed to accommodate the growing numbers of flights and passengers,” Legowo said.

Ngurah Rai airport sits on a 265-hectare site south of Kuta Beach in Tuban, Badung regency.

The airport was originally built as a simple 700-meter-long airstrip by the Dutch Colonial administration’s Voor Verkeer en Waterstaats public works office in the 1930s.

In 1959, president Sukarno developed the airstrip into an international airport. New facilities were built as part of a $13 million (Rp 35 billion in l969) renovation project.

President Soeharto officially inaugurated the airport named after Balinese Freedom Fighter I Gusti Ngurah Rai in l969.

Perusahaan Angkasa Pura (PAP) took over the management of the airport in 1980.

The increasing number of flights forced the company to improve the airport’s facilities.

However, Legowo said, it was impossible to reclaim the sea. Renovation and expansion projects will only take place on the existing plot of land belonging to the company. This means, the new projects
will absorb the company’s surrounding residential, office and school complexes.

Procuring land in Tuban and Kuta area would be very costly as the price of land on the prime tourism location, which is home to luxury hotels and restaurants, currently averages Rp 1 billion for 100 square meters.

“We have been closely coordinating with the local authorities — the Bali provincial and Badung regional administrations — regarding requirements for the standards of buildings, land acquisitions and other regulations,” Legowo said.

The planned airport buildings will blend contemporary and Balinese traditional architectural elements as required by provincial bylaw No 5/2005 on building designs.

IGN Ardita, deputy director of Ngurah Rai airport’s Extension and Renovation Project, said construction would start this year.

“Our target is to complete the renovation by 2013,” Ardita said.

The project plans to expand the international terminal to 120,000 square meters and the domestic terminal to 65,000 square meters.

The cargo terminal is to be expanded to 5,000 square meters. The airport management also plans to build a three-story, 1,500 vehicle parking lot on a 39,000 square-meter plot.

Ardita said the project would expand the domestic apron to 314,000 square meters from 214,500 square meters to accommodate larger aircraft, including the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A330.

The new airport will be able to handle 17 million passengers a year by 2020 and 25 million passengers per year by 2035, Ardita added.

Legowo said the visitor numbers could very well reach those estimated figures, as requests from international airlines to serve direct flights from their countries to Denpasar were increasing sharply.

Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways and Air Asia are just a few major airline companies awaiting approval to operate new services to Bali.

Air Asia and Strategic Airlines are requesting to operate a Bali-Perth route, and Pacific Blue is set to
begin operating a daily Denpasar-Darwin service.

In addition, Cebu Airlines has proposed a Denpasar-Manila service to begin in December, and Vietnam Airlines a Denpasar-Ho Chi Minh city service that would run three times a week starting early 2011.

In addition to the physical renovation and expansion of Ngurah Rai, the airport management company has also pledged to improve the quality of its human resources, customer service, immigration, security system and airport handling activities.

Currently, the airport management employs 1,300 personnel. Ir. H. Juanda Airport in Surabaya, East Java, employs 540 personnel. Around 800 employees at Ngurah Rai are security personnel.

The Transportation Security Agency advised improved airport security following the first Bali Bombing in October 2002 and again after the second in October 2005.

“Bali is an international tourist destination and therefore the airport’s security has become the concern of international aviation and security institutions,” Legowo said.

Security measures including X-Ray scanners, CCTV and body scanners are required under the renovation plan.

“We have installed a CCTV system, which has a direct connection to the office of Vice President Boediono to enable direct control of the situation at Ngurah Rai airport,” he said.

Legowo also said immigration services at the airport were lacking and needed improving.

This is the fourth part in a series on problems and opportunities for Indonesian airports.

Post Your Say

Selected comments will be published in the Readers’ Forum page of our print newspaper.