Hundreds of Airport Traders Association (P2B) members staged a rally on Thursday at the governor's office demanding the Ngurah Rai International Airport authority provide them with commercial spaces and job opportunities in the newly renovated airport.
The protesters warned that the new rental policy implemented by the airport's Commercial Strategic Business Unit (SBU) would shut down the stores operated by P2B members and make 2,400 workers lose their jobs.
"The new rental policy favors major corporations with big capital," P2B chairman I Wayan Sukses said.
The association is made up of 121 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that for years had operated souvenir shops, fashion outlets, restaurants, travel agencies, money changers, rental car desks, beauty salons and spas in and around the airport's two passenger terminals.
Early this year, the SBU announced a new bidding scheme for commercial spaces inside the airport and notified the 121 SMEs that they would be required to vacate their existing premises before the official inauguration of the expansion project slated to be held late this month.
Eight money changer outlets, including one owned by P2B chairman Wayan, had been told to shut down their operations before Sept. 19. The order from the SBU spelt the end of those eight outlets, since their money changer licenses were only valid for doing business inside the airport.
"We are demanding a space in the airport so we will be able to continue running our business. Otherwise, our business will go bankrupt," Wayan said.
He said that the SBU's bidding requirements for selecting new lessees were very difficult, if not completely impossible, for SMEs to fulfil.