Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ngurah Rai airport to get multi-million-dollar face-lift

The island of Bali is a holiday maker’s dream, complete with pristine beaches, terraced rice fields, rich culture and traditions and luxurious accommodation — that is once you get past the airport.

The following are comments from foreigners who visited Bali as posted by several renowned airport review agencies.

Andreas Dubiella from Germany arrived at Ngurah Rai International Airport in early August. “It was a horrible experience — I waited one hour at immigration. On top of that, they take US$25 in visa fees from you to come into the country and $15 in tax to leave the country.”

“Therefore you get an old ugly airport and chaotic surroundings. For me, this kind of treatment is
unacceptable at a popular tourist destination.”

Paul Meerman from the Netherlands expressed a similar point of view. “On arrival we found horrifying lines at immigration. For more than one hour we stood in line, and the hall was totally over crowded.”

The airport, Meerman said, needed a major face-lift and to think of new ways to manage tourists.

The some 2 million foreigners that visit Bali via Ngurah Rai International Airport every year likely have had similar experiences.

It is feared the airport’s dreadful reputation could tarnish Bali’s image as a world-class holiday
destination.

The number of arrivals to the airport per day during the off season is just lower than arrivals to Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at about 13,000 people. However, that number can double during peak season.

Former vice president Jusuf Kalla has proposed a massive overhaul of the airport’s facilities.

To help cope with traveller numbers and improve facilities at the airport, a Rp 2.3 trillion (US$255 million) renovation project will commence this year.

Heru Legowo, general manager of Perusahaan Angkasa Pura (PAP) I state-owned airport management company, described the detailed renovation plan, which includes expanding the domestic and international terminals and renovating the airport’s interior and exterior.

Ngurah Rai airport sits on a 265-hectare site south of Kuta Beach in Tuban, Badung regency.

The airport was originally built as a simple 700-meter-long airstrip by the Dutch Colonial administration’s Voor Verkeer en Waterstaats public works office in the 1930s.

In 1959, president Sukarno developed the airstrip into an international airport. New facilities were built as part of a $13 million (Rp 35 billion in l969) renovation project.

President Soeharto officially inaugurated the airport named after Balinese Freedom Fighter I Gusti Ngurah Rai in l969.

Perusahaan Angkasa Pura (PAP) took over the management of the airport in 1980.

IGN Ardita, deputy director of Ngurah Rai airport’s Extension and Renovation Project, said construction would start this year.

“Our target is to complete the renovation by 2013,” Ardita said.

The project plans to expand the international terminal to 120,000 square meters and the domestic terminal to 65,000 square meters.

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