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Kuala Namu rushes work
for soft opening

Pride of Medan: People visit the new Kuala Namu International Airport in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, on Saturday. The new airport will officially open on July 25. JP/Apriadi Gunawan
Pride of Medan: People visit the new Kuala Namu International Airport in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, on Saturday. The new airport will officially open on July 25. JP/Apriadi Gunawan

Workers were rushing on Saturday to complete Kuala Namu International Airport (KNIA) in Deli Serdang regency, North Sumatra, ahead of the planned soft opening on Thursday.

Finishing touches were being done in many places from the main entrance gate, shopping arcades to airport train arrival hall.

Hundreds of workers were deployed to complete the unfinished facilities and infrastructure at the airport, but work appeared to be progressing very slowly. The train arrival hall, for example, is unlikely to be completed by Thursday.

Workers said it was impossible to complete the train arrival hall by Thursday, saying it would take one month to complete it.

“The train arrival hall can be completed in one month at the latest if funding is disbursed on time,” a worker, Syamsul, told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

He said the workers had done their best to complete the work, but sometimes funding was not disbursed on time, which led to the late delivery of building materials.

The train is currently the only transportation means from Medan to the airport that is ready for the soft launch. Parts of the main highway are still being blocked by residents demanding higher land compensation.

The president director of airport train operator PT Railink, M. Fadhila, said it was Indonesia’s first airport train and would be followed by a similar train line linking Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and Jakarta in 2014.

He said the Kuala Namu train line would be ready for the soft opening, adding that it would use e-ticketing and electronic money.

“We are cooperating with Visa card in ticket purchases and five national banks to facilitate buying airport train tickets,” he said after signing the cooperation agreement with Visa on Saturday.

When asked about the unfinished work on the arrival hall, Fadhila said it was the responsibility of state airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II.

Meanwhile, Angkasa Pura II’s head of Kuala Namu operational team, Daryanto, said that all uncompleted work on was merely on interior design work.

He acknowledged that the airport train arrival hall might not be completed in time for the soft launch, but was upbeat that everything would be finished in the near future.

Daryanto refused to comment on the patchy disbursement of funds for the project, saying he was not authorized to do so.

The airport construction cost some Rp 4 trillion (US$397 million), which was covered by PT Angkasa Pura II and the Transportation Ministry.

The airport operator’s work covered the airport terminal building, roads and parking area, cargo building and apron, government buildings, landscape and street lighting.

Meanwhile, the ministry is responsible for site preparation, runway, parallel taxiway, passage terminal apron, navigation equipment and operational buildings.

Daryanto was upbeat the soft opening on Thursday would not be obstructed by unfinished facilities or infrastructure. He said all facilities and infrastructure related to the airport’s operations — such as passenger terminal, fuel station, control tower, radar station and runway — were ready to serve airlines and their passengers.

“Regulators from the ministry’s civil aviation directorate general inspected the airport on July 3,” he said. “They issued the airport certification [SBU], which is proof that the airport is ready for operation,” he told the Post on Saturday.

KNIA, Indonesia’s first airport designed to accommodate Airbus A380 double-decker jumbo jets, is replacing Polonia Airport.

KNIA has a capacity of some 8.1 million passengers per year, double that of Polonia’s recorded capacity in 2012 of some 3.96 million passengers per year.

The project is part of an effort to increase the capacity of Indonesian airports by 2014. Another new airport project was the Lombok International Airport in West Nusa Tenggara, replacing Selaparang International Airport, which started operation in October 2011.

Other airport projects focus on the expansion of existing ones, such as Soekarno-Hatta International Airport just outside Jakarta and Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali.

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