SBY checks airport readiness for APEC

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday visited Ngurah Rai International Airport to ensure the airport's preparedness to welcome delegates to the APEC Summit next week.

Arriving at 4:30 p.m., the president was welcomed by Tommy Soetomo, president director of airport management company Angkasa Pura.

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu was also present to accompany the president during the visit aimed at checking all the facilities in the newly renovated airport.

Construction of the international terminal, as well as its supporting facilities had been completed, Soetomo explained to the president.

Among the facilities are 96 check-in counters equipped with the Hold Baggage Screening system, 52 immigration counters at the departure and arrival terminals, and seven conveyor belts in the baggage claim area.

In addition to building the international terminal, Angkasa Pura also expanded the apron to 84,502.5 square meters to accommodate more aircraft, especially private jets that would be used by summit delegates.

Development in this area also included building the General Aviation Terminal, which will be specifically used for non-scheduled and chartered flights.

"During peak hours, this airport usually sees two large aircraft landing at the same time, carrying more than 800 passengers in total. We hope this will no longer be a problem with the expansion of the terminal and its additional counters and facilities," Soetomo said.

The president also checked the international arrival terminal that has been in operation since September 19. To welcome the summit delegates, a special lane equipped with a red carpet and hospitality desk has been set up in this terminal.

The president's visit had seen airport workers and officials working around the clock over the last few days. On Monday night, scores of workers were still carrying out the finishing work on parts of the new terminal.

Some of the workers were tinkering with the electrical circuits for the elevators that lie between the domestic departure gate and the international arrival gate. Once the elevators are fully operational, the arriving passengers will have a faster option to reach the new, multistory parking lot across the terminal.

The expansion of the 285-hectare Ngurah Rai airport, which received Rp 2.8 trillion (US$ 288.4 million) in investment funding from state-owned airport manager PT Angkasa Pura (PAP) 1, aims to boost the airport's capacity from 13.5 million passengers to 25 million. Starting last year, the project involved more than 1,000 workers. To speed up project completion, the contractor increased last April the number of workers from 1,200 to 1,600.

The airport expansion is part of an expensive infrastructure overhaul aimed at improving air and land traffic flow ahead of the prestigious APEC Summit. The other projects were the construction of the Rp 128 billion-underpass in Kuta and Rp 2.48 trillion toll road connecting Benoa-Ngurah Rai-Nusa Dua. Both had been completed as scheduled.

Up to 21 heads of state and 3,000 journalists are expected to attend the summit slated to be held early October.