The Transportation Ministry is currently drafting a National Airport Master Plan, a strategic and comprehensive plan to better develop airports across the archipelago to fuel regional economic growth.
Deputy Transportation Minister Bambang Susantono said that the master plan became an important step in supporting the government’s Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Growth (MP3EI) programs because air transportation determined a region’s economic power.
“As a vast country, we have to fairly distribute the traffic [of passengers and cargoes] across Indonesia. Otherwise, economic development will only be centered in big cities like Jakarta, creating wealth gaps that will hinder our development,” he said.
According to ministry data, 125 million passengers flew in Indonesia throughout last year, but almost half of the traffic passed through the country’s main gateway, the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Cengkareng, Banten.
The passenger traffic is projected to increase to 143 million people by the end of 2012.
The master plan is expected to be finished in the second semester of this year, allowing the government to implement the airport planning program in early 2013 at the latest.
Through the master plan, the government would not only improve existing airports, but also construct the new ones, including airstrips in isolated areas, especially in the eastern part of Indonesia, Bambang said.
Currently, Indonesia has 232 airports, 55 of which are commercial airports, while the rest are government-run airports and airstrips in small cities that connect a remote area to a bigger city in the region.
In addition, the development plan would include access to airports such as by road and train.
Bambang also said that the master plan would select six airports to serve as national hubs: Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Cengkareng, Banten; Kuala Namu International Airport in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra; Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java; Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali; Sultan Hassanudin International Airport in Makassar, South Sulawesi; and Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan.
“We hope this comprehensive master plan will energize economic activities nationwide,” he added.
Under the MP3EI program, the government has allocated Rp 32 trillion (US$3.39 billion) to develop airports across the country.
The Transportation Ministry allots an additional Rp 4-5 trillion annually to improve aviation infrastructure and help operators like PT Asi Pudjiastuti (Susi Air) and
PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines (Merpati) to open pioneer routes, opening access to isolated communities.
“At the moment, we are expanding as many as 25 commercial airports to cope with the capacity problems. The expansion is expected to finish in 2014,” he said.
Besides Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and Ngurah Rai International Airport, commercial airports currently undergoing facelifts include Raja Haji Fisabilillah Airport in Tanjung Pinang, Riau Islands; Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport in Pekanbaru, Riau; and Sjamsudin Noor Airport in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan.
Moreover, Bambang said that the much anticipated government regulation on the establishment of the Indonesian Air Navigation Services Organization (PPNPI) would be issued within two months.
According to the 2009 Aviation Law, the government must transfer air navigation service management from airport operators, Angkasa Pura I and Angkasa Pura II, to a non-profit institution in order to improve the country’s air traffic services (ATS).
The nation’s ATS system has struggled along under a lack of air traffic controllers and the burdens of aging infrastructure.