Medan to have new international airport, project to start next year

Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang

State airports operator PT Angkasa Pura II is set to build a new Rp 3.3 trillion (about US$300 million) international airport at Kualanamu, about 24 kilometer northeast of Medan, North Sumatra, to replace the severely congested Medan Polonia airport.

"The construction of Kualanamu Airport will start early next year, and it will enter into service in 2010. It is expected that the new facility will be capable of handling up to 8 million passengers per year," said I Gusti Made Dhordy, Angkasa II's technical and operations director, at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Wednesday.

Angkasa II says the company has already started construction of the initial support facilities on the 1,365-hectare site, including fences, access roads and security posts.

All the preliminary work is expected to be completed by February next year.

"We are also making the final arrangements for the overall airport design, which will be selected from the designs put forward by seven consultancy firms which entered the competition to design the facility," he said.

Meanwhile, the operator's finance director, Tommy Soetomo, said that the project would be financed to the tune of some Rp 2 trillion out of the national budget, with the company coughing up the remaining Rp 1.3 trillion.

"The construction of the Kualanamu International Airport is the only way to overcome the current situation at Polonia Airport, which is only set to get worse unless something is done," he explained.

Polonia airport is located on a 144-hectare site and was designed to handle only 900,000 passengers per year. By comparison, Central Statistics Agency (BPS) figures show that the airport currently caters to around 2 million passengers annually.

Nationwide, over 35 million people fly in Indonesia every year.

"We can no longer manage given the present conditions at Polonia," Tommy explained, adding that from the commercial aspect, the new airport would also have a significant role to play because of its strategic location.

Under the project master plan, in addition to the terminal, which covers 6.5 hectares, and a cargo-handling facility covering 1.3 hectares, there would also be a 3.5-hectare upmarket shopping mall.

In addition, the airport would play host to hotels, restaurants and other entertainment facilities.

"The new airport will serve as a tourism gateway and help boost the economy of North Sumatra," Tommy said.
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