Ngurah Rai International Airport authority will be more selective in future when granting permission to airlines to launch or add new flights to Bali, due to the airport’s ongoing expansion project, which will limit its capacity to cater for additional flights.
“Although the airport is still undergoing a massive expansion project, some new airlines have filed official requests to open new routes to Bali. Moreover, there are other airlines that want to add more flights to this airport,” Angkasa Pura I general manager, Purwanto, said.
Angkasa Pura I is a state-owned company tasked with managing 14 airports in central Indonesia.
Purwanto said the airport authority had to be selective about which requests to favor as it did not want to disappoint the airlines in the long run.
“We have to consider various factors, such as the airport’s capacity, the existing market and each airline’s respective performance,” he said.
Most importantly, he acknowledged, the ongoing expansion project, which includes the construction of a new international terminal, had made conditions at the airport less than ideal. “We don’t want these conditions to disrupt the airlines’ operations or to cause financial losses to those airlines that operate additional flights,” Purwanto said.
So far, only AirAsia has been granted permission to open a new route to Ngurah Rai airport in 2012. The new route will connect Denpasar with Surabaya, East Java.
The airport’s expansion project began last year at an estimated cost of Rp 2.1 trillion. The project is expected to be completed before the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit takes place in Bali in September 2013.
The expansion project includes the construction of a new, 129,000 square meter international terminal, as well as an upgrade of the apron area and parking facilities.
The expansion became necessary once the airport began to see a steady growth in the number of passengers and flights.
“Last year, the number of passengers reached 12,771,874, comprising 6,594,830 domestic passengers and 6,177,044 international passengers,” Purwanto said.
Passenger traffic was double the number recorded in 2006 and nearly 2 million more than the figure in 2010.
Flight traffic has also increased. In 2011, the airport booked 103,771 flights, consisting of 64,262 domestic flights and 39,509 international flights.
“There were, on average, 284 flights per day. We can imagine how busy the airport was, as there were dozens of flights carrying thousands of passengers every hour,” he added.
However, he revealed that the growth in passenger numbers in 2011 was actually lower than that booked in previous years.
“In 2011, we recorded 8 percent of passenger-traffic growth while during previous years, growth generally reached double-digits,” he said, adding that two major airlines, Japan Airlines (JAL) and Australia’s Qantas, terminated their direct flights to Bali in that year.
“A significant drop in the number of passengers, due to events such as the tsunami disaster in Japan and the ongoing global financial crisis, were two key reasons behind those flight terminations,” Purwanto added.
Ngurah Rai International Airport serves 12 domestic airlines, including Garuda Indonesia, Batavia Air, Indonesia AirAsia and Lion Air. It also serves 25 international airlines, including KLM Royal Dutch, Hong Kong Airlines, Eva Air, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia.