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Bali's Airport: Between a Wet and a Soft Place

US$161 Million and 2 Years Needed to Expand Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport.

(11/10/2007) balidiscovery.com recently explored the many problems faced by Bali in efforts to expand the Ngurah Rai International Airport and increase the tourism carrying capacity of the Island. [See: Run, Run, Run, Run... Runway].

Indonesia's Vice President, Jusuf Kalla, conducted an inspection of Bali's air gateway while in town to open the PATA Travel Mart - accompanied by the Minister of Transportation, Syaffi Djamal, and the Minister for State-Owned Enterprises, Sofyan Djalil. Following that inspection Kalla called on PT Angkasa Pura - the company charged with managing the airport, to extend and expand the current runway. Kalla told the Bali Post: "the Ngurah Rai airport must soon be expanded. In the first phase, the runway must be extended 600 meters. In the second phase, a new runway must be constructed." The Vice President called for an urgent construction program to be undertaken in order to permit Bali to welcome the larger, A380 aircraft within two year's time.

The Vice President also said that in order to handle growing passenger levels Bali must build a new domestic terminal and expand the current international terminal. Funding, according to the VP, should come from domestic sources and national banks.

Kalla estimates the cost of the airport expansion will require Rp. 1.5 trillion (approximately US$161.3 million).

Governor Shifts Opinion

One day following the Vice President's visit, Bali's Governor Made Beratha joined the chorus calling for the airport's expansion, changing his earlier position opposing Ngurah Rai's expansion. Moreover, Beratha told the Indonesian language Nusa Bali that the land needed for the expansion was already available.

According to Beratha, land is in hand for the construction of a of an alternative runway with the responsibility of building and funding the facilities falling to PT Angkasa Pura I.

While press reports did not stipulate what specific land the Bali Government has prepared for the airport's expansion, it is widely assumed that environmentally sensitive mangrove forest flats will be sacrificed to make way for the longer runway. The alternative of reclaiming land at the western end of the current runway is widely considered to pose an erosion threat to the entire Kuta beach area.

In speaking to the press, Governor Beratha dismissed plans to build a new airport in West Bali, insisting a new airport is not needed as long as the current airport can be expanded.