The Jakarta Post
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has inaugurated Silangit International Airport, the main gate to the government-promoted tourist destination of Lake Toba and its surroundings in Tapanuli Utara regency, North Sumatra.
The airport with international standard facilities is only a 30-minute drive from Lake Toba.
"Now we have created a new boom for tourism. The gate to the beautiful Lake Toba, which preserves the cultures and traditions of the Batak people, is now open," he said in his speech on the official opening of the airport on Friday.
To achieve international status, Silangit Airport has seen a comprehensive overhaul of its facilities. The terminal is now ready to handle one million passengers annually.
The runway has been expanded to a length of 2,650 meters and a width of 45 m from the previous 2,400 m x 30 m, enabling it to accommodate larger planes, such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800.
Jokowi, however, called on state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura (AP) II to extend the runway again to a total length of 3,000 m, so that it could accept bigger aircraft. "I want the extension to be implanted by 2020 at the latest," he said.
Jokowi arrived at the airport at 10:35 a.m. local time by helicopter from the Soewondo military airfield in Medan.
On Oct. 28, Silangit welcomed its first international flight from Singapore by flag carrier Garuda Indonesia. Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said Silangit currently served 10 international chartered flights a month, a number he expected to double in December. (bbn)