Jakarta airport’s new terminal fails checks, opening delayed

The opening of Jakarta's new terminal at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport has been delayed for at least two weeks, or until after Ramadan, following its failure to get the all-clear from the authorities last week.

A first-phase opening of the new "Terminal 3 Ultimate" had been scheduled for today, initially to serve passengers on domestic and international flights operated by national carrier Garuda.

Indonesian Transport Ministry officials had deemed it "too risky for the terminal to operate with back-up electricity still not online, a disrupted view from air traffic control tower to apron, incomplete signs and dysfunctional toilets", according to a Jakarta Globe report last Saturday.

Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan had expressed concerns over ground safety during a visit to the new terminal last Tuesday, The Jakarta Post reported.

The ministry will conduct another inspection of the 4.7 trillion rupiah (S$475 million) facility today before a new opening date can be set, state airport operator Angkasa Pura II said, according to the reports.

"It's likely the operation will be postponed until after Idul Fitri," Angkasa Pura II operations and engineering director Djoko Murjatmodjo told the Jakarta Globe.

Eid Idul Fitri is the Muslim holiday marking the end of the Ramadan month of fasting. Celebrated as Hari Raya Aidilfitri in Singapore, the holiday falls on July 6 this year.

Addressing the problems raised by the ministry, Mr Djoko said the state airport operator has back-up facilities to ensure operations at the new terminal remain uninterrupted in the event of a power outage, which he said is a rare occurrence in the region.

The operator has also set up a portable mobile air traffic control tower to support the main control tower in monitoring "blind spots" at some of the aprons of Terminal 3 Ultimate. But during its final check last Thursday, the Transport Ministry deemed the borrowed tower insufficient to meet civil aviation safety regulations.

Angkasa Pura II has planned for Terminal 3 Ultimate to go fully operational in March next year and serve international flights from other carriers including Air France, China Airlines and Dutch carrier KLM. It is also expected to become the only arrival and departure point for international passengers in future.

When fully operational, it will be able to handle some 25 million passengers a year, adding to the 52 million that now pass through Soekarno-Hatta's two terminals.

Spanning 422,804 sq m, the new terminal is slightly larger than Changi Airport's Terminal 3 and will have 10 gates for international flights and 18 for domestic ones, two four-star hotels and duty-free shops, among other facilities.

Indonesian officials hope that with the opening of the new terminal, Soekarno-Hatta will be able to rival Changi and Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and lure international passengers to choose Jakarta as a transit point.

This article was first published on Jun 20, 2016.
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