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Shopping Around for an Airport

Bali's Airport Managers at Odds with Governor Over Commercialization of Island's Main Gateway.

(5/11/2009) As reported on Balidiscovery.com, Bali's governor Made Mangku Pastika has recently rejected the proposed redevelopment plan for Bali's international airport; calling for less commercialization, more efficiency and greater attention to Balinese design aspects in plans for an revamp of the existing airport. [See: Bali Airport Renovation Rejected by Governor]

Radar Bali suggests that Heru Legowo, General Manager of PT Angkasa Pura - the operating authority of the Ngurah Rai International Airport, is paying little heed to the comments from the island's Chief Executive.

When interviewed by Radar Bali, Legowo indicated he would be carrying on with plans to increase the area dedicated to commercial activity at the airport, with 40% of building space set aside for businesses.

Acknowledging that he was aware of the governor's unfavorable view of current renovation plans, Legowo insisted that he would be going ahead with plans to increase space dedicated for handicraft sales, saying the airport shops would not be in competition with outside art markets.

"I am certain that we will not be hurting the handicraft markers outside the airport. There are tourists who did not have the chance to shop at those markets and will have a chance to do so at the airport. It's impossible that this will destroy the outside markets," explained Legowo.

In fairness to Bali's governor, his objections to the over-commercialization of Bali's airport was more concerned with the resulting general disarray and inefficiencies than with the issue too many handicraft vendors renting space at the airport. The lack of a proper commercial plan has resulted in as many as eight money changers operating side by side in the arrival hall, tens of reflexology shops and an overabundance of nondescript handicraft shops all vying for business.

Heru also told the press that increasing the number of shops at the airport was his duty as the local head of a State-Owned enterprise charged with increasing profits for his employers.

Heru added: "if we only provide operational services at the airport, where will we obtain our income? Because of this we are compelled to increase the commercial space."

As part of the airport expansion program, 69 homes used by Angkasa Pura employees and located immediately adjacent to the current airport will soon be demolished.

Heru said that he is now working to complete the airport design so the bidding process can commence and construction can get underway before the end of 2009.