Jakarta Globe reports that the beleaguered Lombok International Airport began operations at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 30, 2011.
Long delayed for a variety of reasons ranging from funding, lack of supporting infrastructure, theft of building materials, environmental disputes and construction delays - the original opening date of March 2010 was pushed back by 1.5 years.
Covering an area of 585 hectares, the airport cost more than US$91 million to complete, substantially more than the original budget estimate of US$75 million.
A Garuda flight from Jakarta was scheduled to be the first landing of a scheduled flight at the new facility.
Continuing to amaze the public with displays of poor management, the transition from the old Selaparang Airport to the new airfield was not without incident. Apparently, airlines flying to the old airport on its last day of operation were not informed that the airport would cease operations at 6:00 p.m.on Thursday, causing last minute cancellation of flights operated by Lion Air and Wings Air stranding passengers holding bookings overnight on the island.
Angry passengers were demanding compensation for missed international connections and a range of other inconveniences.
The new airport is 40 kilometers southeast of Mataram, the capital city of Mataram. With a runway length of 2,750 meters that mirrors the length of nearby Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali, the airport will be able to accommodate large jets but, like Bali, is too short to allow fully-fueled, fully-loaded wide-bodied jets to undertake long-distance intercontinental flights.
Tourism officials are targeting 1 million visitors in 2012 at the airport built to handle 3 million visitors each year.
[Holding the Apron Strings in Lombok]
[Lombok Airport to Open One Year Behind Schedule]
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