Komodo Airport to be turned into an international airport by June, paving the way to the launch of direct international flights to neighbouring countries such as Malaysia or Singapore.
Komodo Airport in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara, the main entryway to one of Indonesia’s tourism hotspots, will become an international airport in June, earlier than the government’s initial plan for 2021. “We agreed to make it [an international airport] faster. Hopefully, the investors can be serious in developing the airport,” said Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi last Friday on the sidelines of the signing of an agreement between Komodo Airport’s developers.
PT Cinta Airport Flores (CAF), a business consortium 80 percent owned by publicly listed local aviation services company Cardig Aero Services and 20 percent owned by Singapore’s Changi Airports International, will be responsible for the development of Komodo Airport. The Cardig-Changi business consortium already announced investing IDR1.2 trillion (approximately US$88 million) over the next five years. That would include the expansion of the terminal to a capacity of four million passengers (compared to a current capacity of 700,000 passengers a year) and lengthening the runway to accommodate long-haul aircraft. Authorities are expecting that from 2021, they will be direct flights to China, Japan or India.
This is the first time a consortium involving a foreign company was given management of an airport in Indonesia, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said.
The international status of the airport is happening as the East Nusa Tenggara administration – where Flores island Komodo National Park is located- introduced a new membership to access the destination. The membership costs 1,000 dollars a year to be able to visit and stay at the National Park to see the famous Komodo lizards.
The membership card is part of an ongoing effort to rebrand Komodo Island as a premium tourist destination. The administration has set a target of attracting at least 50,000 local and foreign tourists to Komodo. Having an international airport will be part of the strategy to reposition Komodo into a premium destination.
“In 2020 we will start implementing a membership system for tourists coming to Komodo Island. Visiting tourists must obtain the membership card issued by the administration,” highlights the province.