August 22, 2008

Indonesia: Air Force Base to Become Commercial Airport

Excerpt from report in English by influential Indonesian newspaper The Jakarta Post English-language website on 21 August

[Article by Agus Maryono: "Purbalingga to convert air base to commercial airport"]

The Purbalingga District Administration in Central Java will soon develop the Wirasaba Air Force Base into a commercial airport to facilitate easier and faster links to the district.

The administration estimates it needs IDR 15 billion (USD 1.63 million) to develop the 115-hectare air force base, located in Wirasaba Village, Bukateja Sub-district, into a commercial airport.

Purbalingga District Head Triyono Budisasongko expressed optimism that the development of the air force base into a commercial airport would help increase the quantity and quality of investors across the district and in the surrounding areas.

[passage omitted -irrelevant information]

Meanwhile District Administration Chief Spokesman, Prayitno, said that most of the investors found it difficult to access Purbalingga quickly.

"That's why we decided to develop the air force base into a commercial airport in order to meet the urgent demand," he said.

"We received approval from Air Force Headquarters to develop the air force base in 2007. The master plan was also completed in 2007."

Prayitno said construction work should start this year so the airport should be operational soon.

The airport has an 850-metre grass runway allowing the 16-seater NC-212 to land. The runway needs to be sealed, reinforced and lengthened to at least 1,600 metres to allow bigger planes to land.

"National and foreign investors, as well as people in the district, are supportive of the project. So we are absolutely confident in developing the airport," he said.

Private airlines GT Air, Susi Air, Trans Alfa Dirgantara and Lido Flying Club as well as the management body of Purbalingga's Owabong Tourism Centre and Bandung-based PT Agro Mandiri have all stated their support for the airport project.

Prayitno said that the airport's presence would not only boost business activities in the district but also in the southern Central Java region.

"The districts of Banjarnegara, Banyumas, Cilacap, Kebumen and Wonosobo will also benefit from the airport," he said.

"These districts can only be accessed by land, with transportation taking about seven hours from Jakarta."

[passage omitted -irrelevant information]

Prayitno said the condition of the airport infrastructure, including the runway, apron, communication equipment and control tower, as well as avtur and avigas fuel supply facilities, were all in good condition.

Originally published by The Jakarta Post website, Jakarta, in English 21 Aug 08.

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