President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officially inaugurated on Thursday the Kuala Namu International Airport in Deli Serdang regency, near Medan, North Sumatra. It was a significant moment for Yudhoyono, as he approaches the end of his two terms as the country’s sixth president.
plush Kuala Namu airport, offering the most sophisticated passenger
terminal in the country, is one of several successful infrastructure
projects built during Yudhoyono’s era. During the inauguration ceremony,
Yudhoyono said the airport marked an important milestone toward a more
prosperous North Sumatra in particular and Indonesia in general.
the ceremony, the President also announced the completion of expansion
projects at commercial airports Sultan Syarif Kasim II International
Airport in Pekanbaru, Riau, and Raja Haji Fisabilillah in Tanjung
Pinang, Riau Islands, as well as smaller airstrips in Muara Bungo in
Jambi, Pekon Serai in Lampung and Pagar Alam in South Sumatra.
director of state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura (AP) II, Tri
Sunoko, said the construction of the new airport was part of the
government’s Masterplan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian
Economic Development (MP3EI).
The new airport will also become
part of Yudhoyono’s legacy before leaving office following the
presidential election, which is set to take place in July.
President, who according to the Constitution, cannot run for a third
term, is a key supporter of the construction of the 29-kilometer Sunda
Strait Bridge, connecting Merak in Banten, West Java, and Bakauheni in
Lampung, on the southern tip of Sumatra.
Due to technical and
financial setbacks, the construction of the mega bridge has faced a
series of delays and will not begin before the end of Yudhoyono’s term.
said there was every hope that Kuala Namu airport, which had taken six
years to build, would become the country’s main gateway for visitors
traveling from China, Europe and the Middle East.
operator invested Rp 2.2 trillion (US$192.1 million) to construct
everything in the landside area, while the government allocated Rp 3.39
trillion from the state budget to construct the airside area.
Namu has capacity to deal with 8 million people a year. However, just a
few months after its operations began, the number of passengers had
reached 8.3 million.
Tri said AP II was currently preparing for
the airport’s second phase of development, to increase passenger traffic
capacity to 25 million per year. He said the company expected to start
construction by next year.
“In mid-2015, we will begin the
second phase of Kuala Namu airport’s construction, with a total budget
of at least Rp 2.4 trillion for the airport’s landside development,” he
AP II has allocated Rp 130 billion this year to further develop the airport, which began operating in July last year. (Jakarta Post)