Batam airport to become
hub for maintenance and

The Batam Free Trade Zone Authority (BPK-FTZ) plans to make Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam, Riau Islands, an international center of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities in the future by allocating 80 hectares of land for that purpose.

The BPK-FTZ’s director for publications and integrated services, Dwi Djoko Wiwoho, said on Tuesday that it hoped to attract 10 companies to set up their MRO facilities at the airport.

“We’re also hoping foreign aircraft manufacturers will choose Batam as the location of their workshops,” he said.

Djoko said that Batam’s close proximity to Singapore would be an advantage because airplanes’ spare parts would be cheaper and easier to obtain in Batam.

At the moment, an airplane manufacturer from Russia is considering building a US$50 million MRO at the airport, according to him. Djoko, however, declined to reveal the name of the company.

He added that the country’s largest domestic carrier Lion Air inked a deal last year to build a $100 million aircraft maintenance facility that slated to start operations at the airport in 2013.

Djoko said the 4-hectare MRO facility would be capable of housing up to eight Boeing 737 airplanes.

By transforming Hang Nadim Airport into the go-to-place for aircraft maintenance and repair, Djoko said, it would absorb a lot of human capital.

According to him, Lion Air’s MRO facility will require 1,000 employees with degrees in aeronautical engineering.

He, however, said that Batam lacked individuals qualified to work in the industry so Lion Air might have to look for qualified people in other regions.

To avoid the scarcity of human capital, Djoko said he talked with academic institutions such as polytechnic and aviation schools to tap into the opportunity provided by the MRO industry.

“If the industry of MRO grows in Batam, then there is a big opportunity to employ students from such schools,” he said.

Lion Air is not the first company to eye the airport as a potential base for a workshop.

Jakarta-based aviation, logistics, catering and security services provider PT Cardig International signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with BPK-FTZ in 2008 to build an MRO facility at the airport. However, the plan failed to materialize. (han/swd)

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