Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla has apparently brought to an end the long-standing debate on the future of Bali's international airport by instructing that a Rp. 1.2 trillion (US$108 million) expansion must be completed by 2011.
As reported by Bisnis Indonesia, the Vice President issued his instructions following an inspection visit to the airport over the Christmas/New Year period. He was accompanied on his visit by the Minister of Communications Jusman Syafii Djamal, the Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik, the governor of Bali Made Mangku Pastika, the Regent (Bupati) of Badung A.A. Gde Agung and the Director of Angkasa Pura I Bambang Darwoto.
Declaring there was no immediate need to extend the length of the current airport, Kalla directed that the current expansion of the Ngurah Rai Airport should be completed by 2011, declaring the expanded airport sufficient to meet Bali's transportation needs through 2020.
Rejecting calls to make the current runway long enough to handle jumbo Airbus 380 aircraft, Vice President Kalla discounted the importance of creating an airport capable of handling the super-jumbo at the end of a 12 hour flight from the U.S. or Europe. According to Kalla, "the cost exceeds the benefit if we extend the length of the current runway to accommodate airplanes that handle 500 passengers."
Bambang Darwoto of the airport management authority said the current 15,000 square meter domestic terminal would be moved to the larger 70,000 square meter international terminal. Darwoto also said that the Vice President vetoed the idea of building a mall between the international and domestic terminals, saying the airport was not a transit facility but a destination airport.
Other changes will see the international terminal moved to the space occupied by the current domestic terminal and expanded to 70,000 square meters.
Also on tap for the improved airport is more apron space to accommodate more parked aircraft, a four floor parking facility, and a new control tower.
In 2008 the Bali airport handled an estimated 5 million domestic and international passengers.
[ Minister Wacik Lobbies for North Bali Airport]
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