Editorial: A Change That’s Been A Long Time Coming
Jakarta Globe - 24/05/2012
It has been a long wait, but it has been worth it. Work on the expansion of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is finally set to begin and it is about time.
Jakarta remains the only major cosmopolitan capital in the region that has not upgraded its airport in recent years, a fact that is increasingly hurting the country’s economy and its image. Soekarno-Hatta is Indonesia’s primary gateway and forms the first impression of the country for millions of first-time visitors.
Built in the early 1980s, it was only meant to handle up to 22 million passengers a year, but it served 44 million in 2010. The country’s rapid economic growth during the past decade has made the airport virtually obsolete.
Thankfully, change is on the way. Angkasa Pura II president director Tri Suriadjie Sunoko has said the ground-breaking ceremony for the expansion of the 13th-busiest airport in the world will take place in July.
The first phase of the project will include the expansion of the third terminal, an access road and a cargo terminal, as well as a new integrated building linking the three terminals. With the expansion, which should be finished in 2014, the airport’s annual passenger-handling capacity will rise to 62 million. It will also increase apron capacity to 174 aircraft from 125 and triple cargo handling capacity to 1.5 million tons.
These are huge improvements and will bring Soekaro-Hatta on par with other regional airports. But the government must already start looking much further down the road. This is crucial as by the time the expansion is completed, the airport may be operating at near capacity if the economy continues to grow at its current pace.
The lack of infrastructure development has held the economy back, so it is encouraging to see the government’s efforts to push ahead on the airport’s expansion. The country will be richer for it.