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Published on March 27, 2014

On Thursday, 27 March 2014, Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officially inaugurated the brand new Kualanamu Airport of Medan, capital city of North Sumatra which replaced the old Polonia Airport, nearer the city. Kualanamu, located some 38 km from Medan has been operational since 25 July 2013.

Medan is Sumatra’s largest business city and gateway to magnificent Lake Toba and other tourist attractions like Berastagi and Nias. The new airport is planned to become a domestic and international hub for flights in the region. Already today Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia Air Asia, Lion Air, Srivijaya Air and others have made Kualanamu one of their main hubs.

Kualanamu airport is today touted as the best airport in Indonesia, and is built to receive 8 million passengers per year. It has the latest Integrated baggage handling system (IBHSS) which places priority to safety and security. Kualanamu is also the first Indonesian airport to be connectedby rail direct from Medan.

It has a 3,750 x 60 m runway capable of receiving wide body aircraft including Airbus A380. It has space for 33 aircrafts and has a large parking bay for buses and private cars.

Other new airports and renovation and extensions projects inaugurated at the same time by the President are: the city of Jambi’s Muara Bungo airport, West Lampung Pekon Serai Airport,Palembang’s Pagar Alam airport, Pekanbaru’s Sultan Syarif Kasin II, and Tanjung Pinang on Bintan’ Raja Haji Fisabilillah airport.

Also launched on the same day was Lake Toba area as National Geopark.

In his address, President Yudhoyono said that commensurate with the rapid economic development in Asia in the past ten years, Indonesia has also improved greatly. One lagging sector, however, is infrastructure capacity development to build domestic connectivity across this far flung archipelago.

According to the President, Indonesia’s economy is now ranked at no. 16 in the world, with a total GDP of 1 trillion US Dollars. This growth has caused the surging need for economic capacity. Moreover, last year, Indonesia’s middle class already counted 50 million people, which is expected to climb to 35 million in 2030. For these reasons there is an urgent need to build infrastructure projects, including in the field of air, sea and land transportation.

In anticipation of the further rapid economic growth in Asia, including Indonesia’s integration into regional economies, we need to strengthen our own domestic connectivity first, said President Yudhoyono.

According to data gathered by kompas daily, the number of Indonesia’s domestic air passengers has grown by 13.8% per year between 2009 – 2013, with international air passengers growing by 19.3%. Indonesia has 22 airlines with operating certificates (OC) and 35 airlines possessing AOC (air operator certificates) Togeher they serve over 400 domestic and international routes, connecting 121 city destinations in Indonesia and the world. With such high and rapid growth, the majority of Indonesian airports are already over their original construction capacity.

Photo Courtesy Erlina Tan