Kubutambahan to become airport site

by on 2012-07-31

After years of speculation, the provincial administration has finally decided to develop a new international airport in Kubutambahan village, around 15 kilometers east of Singaraja, the capital of Buleleng regency in north Bali.

I Ketut Wija, head of the province’s economic and development affairs agency, told Bali Daily recently that, based on a feasibility study conducted by central government last year, the best place for the airport was Kubutambahan.

Previously, rumors had spread widely that the government would develop an international airport in Gerokgak village, around 30 kilometers west of Singaraja.

The plan drew much wild speculation and caused many unscrupulous middlemen to buy land from local residents at very low prices to resell to rich people in Denpasar, Jakarta and Surabaya at inflated prices.

It was reported many businessmen from these cities had acquired hectares of land in Gerogkak to reap the financial benefits from the planned airport development.

In the feasibility study, the central government focused on three sites in Buleleng regency: Kubutambahan, Sangsit and Gerokgak villages.

“Technically, considering the geographical conditions, wind speed, wind direction and other factors, Kubutambahan area is the best site for the new airport. There is also a large plot of land near the beach,” he added.

The construction of the new airport, however, is still waiting for a potential investor.

Wija explained that an Indian investor had come to Bali interested in being involved in the development, but had since canceled his plan.

“The new airport will be built as soon as we have an investor,” he added.

Jero Wacik announced the planned new airport would be in Buleleng when he was tourism and culture minister several years ago.

The new airport will anticipate rapidly rising number of tourists visiting the island. It is thought that the new airport will gradually take over from Ngurah Rai International Airport, since the latter faces land constraint problems that prevent the operator from extending the runway. The existing airport is unable to accommodate increased traffic.

Data from PT Angkasa Pura I, the state-owned airport management company and operator of Ngurah Rai International Airport, has shown that the number of passengers and flights is continually increasing.

The number of passengers reached 12,771,874 in 2011, comprising 6,594,830 domestic passengers and 6,177,044 international passengers. Passenger traffic has doubled compared with that recorded in 2006, and is nearly 2 million higher than in 2010. Flight traffic has also increased, up to 284 flights per day. In 2011, the airport recorded 103,771 flights, consisting of 64,262 domestic flights and 39,509 international flights.

Currently, PT. Angkasa Pura I is expanding Ngurah Rai in anticipation of surging traffic prior to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit at the end of 2013. The expansion has cost Rp 2.7 trillion (US$286.2 million), with improvements to the airport’s international terminal, the building of a new apron and expansion of the parking facilities. The expansion project is expected to increase the airport’s total capacity from 9 million to 25 million passengers per year.

Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika regretted that there had been no significant progress made on the new airport. “We don’t have enough information on the progress, or whether progress has been made on this matter. It is also quite difficult to get any information related to this planned airport from the Transportation Ministry due to the recent change of minister,” Pastika told reporters in April.

The new plans, however, have sparked land price speculation run by brokers for several years, since Jero Wacik announced the plan initially, forcing land prices in the area up.

Made Suardana, a broker in Buleleng, said the price of land in the Kubutambahan area had significantly increased over the last two years. Average prices were now Rp 35 million per 100 square meters, higher than two years ago, which averaged less than Rp 10 million. “That price is only for land located on small streets. For land located on the main street, the price is higher than Rp 35 million per 100 square meters,” Suardana said.

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