In a recent interview with the newspaper Jakarta Globe, Bandung new Kertajati International Airport in Majalengka, West Java, is scheduled to start operations in June, just on time to welcome the surge in air traffic generated by the haj pilgrimage. West Java usually sends the most number of pilgrims to Mecca every year for the haj and the new airport would help take out some of the burden at Jakarta Soekarno Hatta International Airport.
Stretching on 1,800 hectares of land, the airport’s project is being planned to be developed in three stages. The first stage is expected to accommodate five million passengers a year and is due to start latest by June this year. The second phase will boost capacity to eight million passengers/year while the third phase -probably not before 2030- would then further expand capacity to 18 million. In the long-term, the airport could accommodate 40 million passengers, with two runways being in use.
In the first phase, a two-floor passenger terminal building will provide 96,000m² of surface. In the second phase, the terminal will be expanded to 121,000 m2.
The airport will be the second biggest in Indonesia after Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and has been in development since 2013 with initial investment from the West Java provincial administration of Rp 4.9 trillion ($392 million). Total investments is however due to reach Rp10 billion, some US$800 million for the first phase.
“President Joko Widodo wants the airport ready this year to be used by West Java’s hajj pilgrims, and for that reason we need to extend the runway from 2,500 meters to 3,000 meters to accommodate bigger aircrafts,” Agus Santoso, the Transportation Ministry’s civil aviation director, told reporters after a meeting at the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Ministry headquarters in Jakarta two weeks ago, reported the Jakarta Globe.
The Kertajati Airport is developed and owned by Bandarudara Internasional Jawa Barat (BIJB), a company owned by the West Java regional government established in 2013. A joint venture with state-owned company Angkasa Pura II (AP II), the most experienced airport operator in the country.
“We can only give funding to state-owned companies, not companies owned by regional governments. So far we’ve given Rp 400 billion to Angkasa Pura to develop Kertajati’s runway,” Agus explained to local media.
The agreement over the management take over by Angkasa Pura II was finally reached at the end of January with BIJB. Airport’s management and operation will then be fullfilled by AP II until 2035, following the acquisition by APII of a 38% stake in BIJB.
The signing of the deal means Kertajati Airport finally has a BUBU, or Airport Operator Permit, since AP II — the most experienced airport operator in the country — already pockets the permit.
AP II will transfer its expertise and knowledge to BIJB which would then allow the West Java operator to eventually manage the airport on its own after 2035. “We will give more funding as long as they make sure the airport is kept to world-class standards and stays profitable,” declared Agus Santoso, the Transportation Ministry’s civil aviation director.
A major issue will however be the access to the airport. Kertajati is located half way between Bandung and Cirebon. While the airport will help open up the northern Coast of West Java province and provide a quicker access to the historical city of Cirebon by road (69 km away, approximately 90 minutes by car), it will take between two and three hours to reach Bandung, West Java capital located 120 km away. The government announced at the end of last year looking to expand the future high speed train link Jakarta-Bandung to the new airport. But there is no date for the completion of that project and it is likely that it would take another five years at least to witness any progress.
“Everything will be ready in a few months,” Agus Santoso, the Transportation Ministry’s civil aviation director. However, according to a video presentation, the air terminal was completed by 81% on January 11. Part of the roof is still missing while interior construction is on the process. Over-optimism or reality? Kertajati airport will definitely open. But June seems a bit to hasty. Bandung current airport in the city centre still has a bright future!