Kulon Progo, Another Badly Planned Airport in Indonesia ?

The future Yogyakarta International Airport in Kulon Progo

After Kertajati airport in West Java, the next big airport having problems to take off is the brand new Yogyakarta International Airport in Kulon Progo, which partially opened to the public in May and is due to be fully operational in October. Like in Kertajati in West Java, there is no proper tollway to link the airport to Yogyakarta…

Indonesia has been fast to redevelop and build new airports around the country since Joko Widodo has been elected President of Indonesia back to 2014 and again this year. The new president had promised to boost infrastructure in the country with a bunch of new highways, rail lines, seaports and airports. The number of newly built or expanded airports has been spectactular since he came to power. Greenfield airports were developed in Samarinda and Palangkaraya (Kalimantan), in Kertajati (West Java) and the new Yogyakarta International Airport . Brand new terminal buildings were also added in Balikpapan, Bandar Lampung, Bandung, Jakarta, Jambi, Pontianak, Semarang, Silangit and Surabaya among others.

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Kertajati airport in West Java

Kertajati International Airport was opened last year and is due to replace Bandung old airport. Except that the airport is still not linked by an expressway to Bandung despite being 170 km away. Passengers need currently approximately three hours to reach Kertajati. As airlines refused to open new routes to the brand new greenfield, the government finally has forced airlines to relocate in July all their flights to the new facility, except flights to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and within Java Island… This strategy is still dubious as Jakarta International Airport is also three hours away from Bandung and offers far better connections…

The new Yogyakarta International Airport is likely to share the same fate. Yogyakarta current airport is on the verge of explosion as it accommodated in 2018 over eight million passengers for a nominal capacity of 2.5 million in its two terminals. Enters Yogyakarta International Airport in Kulon Progo regency, some km away from the city. Originally planned to open in 2016, the new facility opened finally in May this year welcoming a handful of domestic flights. The delay was due to disputes over land acquisition with many families  refusing to leave the area. Last week, the government announced that the airport will be operational at the end of October with some 65 daily domestic flights being relocated to the new airport.

However, new international flights are unlikely to come anytime soon, They are neither an international hospital or an international hotel nearby while the minimum travel time to Yogyakarta city takes 70 minutes… It is a requirement for international carriers and they will not come as long as these conditions are not fulfilled and despite the enor,aous international potential for Yogyakarta.

Like in Kertajati, there is so far no expressway to connect the airport to town. However, there is already a shuttle service linking the airport to a nearby rail station, only six km from the air terminal. The rail link is due to be extended directly to the airport.

Another major issue is the air terminal. Designed in a first phase to handle 15 million passengers, the 130,000 sqm terminal is still in construction and is unlikely to be completed before 2021. A provisory structure is opened to the public able to accommodate 1.5 million passengers on a surface of only 12,960 sqm. Indonesia and airports seem to be a story of put the cart before the horse…