Silangit Airport in North Sumatra has been existing for a long time but until recently the airport was only used for a few domestic flights. However, a runway extension and a new terminal have been implemented and completed last month. Now, Silangit offers a 2,650-meter runway, capable of accommodating mid-size jets such as Boeing B737 and Airbus A320. Previously the runway was only 2,200 m long and 30 meters wide. A new terminal has been added with customs and immigration facilities and can welcome both international and domestic travellers. All together, Silangit Airport will be able to accommodate an initial annual passengers output of 500,000.
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said that Silangit Airport would officially receive its status to become an international airport from October 28. The status upgrade is part of the government’s effort to support tourism in North Sumatra, especially Lake Toba and surrounding areas.
“Starting on Oct. 28, it will be operated as an international airport. We will also add various supporting services outside the airport,” said Budi on Sunday as reported by tempo magazine.
Airlines that already fly to the airport include national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, Sriwijaya Air and Wings Air. According to the Ministry of Transportation, Sriwijaya is now planning to offer direct flights to Singapore. Both Ministers of Transportation and Tourism expect to see international flights to Kuala Lumpur and eventually to Bangkok.
According to airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II president director Muhammad Awaluddin, “the target for tourist arrivals has been set to 500,00 people until 2019.Passengers who use Silangit Airport reached 124,000 people in the first semester of 2017, a 300 percent growth from the same period last year that saw only 31,000 travekkers. The number indicates that there are around 20,000 passengers per month. We predict that by the end of this year there will be 250,000 to 300,000 passengers,” Muhammad explained to local media.
Currently, there are two airlines, Garuda Indonesia and Sriwijaya, that travel to Silangit Airport. Lion Air is expected to follow suit in the near future.
The ministry is spending 20 trillion rupiahs (US$1.5 billion) for the development of Lake Toba as an international tourist destination with world class standards. Half of the budget has been dedicated to infrastructure while the other half is for the construction and upgrading of resorts.
“The infrastructure is currently being developed with toll road and road access to Silangit Airport as well as the construction of inner and outer ring roads outside Lake Toba,” said tourism minister Arief Yahya. A bus shuttle service is due to start by December, linking the airport to Samosir Island, the main tourist destination for Lake Toba.