Kertajati airport ready for Idul Fitri exodus but not haj
The Jakarta Post
Kertajati International Airport in Majalengka, West Java, started operating on Thursday. It is the second largest airport in Indonesia after Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and is expected to lighten the burden of Husein Sastranegara Airport in Bandung, West Java.
Kertajati airport is located about 200 kilometers from Jakarta. Its development cost an estimated Rp 2.1 trillion (US$153.7 million). Combined with its operational costs, total investment in the new airport will be about Rp 2.6 trillion.
Here are some facts about the airport:
Majalengka is located in West Java, the most populated province in Indonesia. West Java is also home to industrial areas such as Bekasi, Karawang and Purwakarta and a plan to develop these regions into a special economic zone (SEZ) is in the pipeline.
The manufacturing industry as well as transportation and warehousing contribute to about 48 percent of the province's economy. However, economic growth has been hampered by inadequate infrastructure. An assessment from Bank Indonesia showed that the development of the airport would contribute around 0.02 percent of additional growth to Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The government plans to connect Kertajati airport to Bandung via a toll road. At present, it is in the process of acquiring land for the road.
The airport is expected to boost tourism in nearby regions, including the Majalengka regency. Majalengka has various natural attractions, such as the Gunung Ciremai National Park. The airport will also ease access to Cirebon, Kuningan and Tasikmalaya.
Although Kertajati airport started operations on Thursday, it will only officially start operating as an international airport on June 24. It plans to accommodate up to five million passengers annually.
The airport is operated by state-owned PT Angkasa Pura II and PT Bandara Internasional Jawa Barat (BIJB), which are owned by the West Java administration.
West Java Transportation Agency head Dedi Taufik said the airport would accommodate five round-trip destinations as a start, namely to Denpasar in Bali, Makassar in South Sulawesi, Balikpapan in East Kalimantan, Surabaya in East Java and Medan in North Sumatra. The flights will be operated by Garuda Indonesia, its subsidiary Citilink Indonesia and Sriwijaya Air.
Idul Fitri exodus
Every year during the Idul Fitri holiday, roads on Java Island are heavily congested to accommodate the mass exodus. The presence of Kertajati airport is expected to relieve the strain on the roads.
The BIJB said exodus flights would commence on June 5 and tickets would be made available on the same day. BIJB president director Virda Dimas said the operator had discussed the routes with the Transportation Ministry, adding that flight frequencies would be adjusted according to demand.
National carrier Garuda Indonesia operational director Triyanto Moeharsono said the airline would have to increase its capacity to accommodate exodus flights from Kertajati airport because the seat quota had not been planned yet. Triyanto added that Garuda was still studying the plans.
Initially, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said on his visit to the airport that it would be ready for haj flights.
However, the airport’s runway is not yet long enough to carry wide-bodied aircraft, which is mostly used for long-haul flights to Mecca. At present, the airport only has a 2,600 meter-long runway, while wide-bodied aircraft such as Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s need at least a 3,000 m-long runway. The initial plan stated that the fully developed airport would have 3,000 and 3,500 m-long runways.
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said, for now, the airport would transport passengers going on haj from West Java’s cities to Soekarno-Hatta before they board direct flights to Saudi Arabia.
Budi promised that direct flights from Kertajati airport would be available next year as the government was to begin construction on the remaining 500-m runway in July, which will take about six months.
Kertajati airport was expected to serve about 25,000 people from the West Java regencies of Majalengka and Sumedang who will go on haj in August, the minister added.
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