Kertajati International Airport in West Java has been mostly deserted since its inauguration in June last year, prompting many embarrassing images and headlines in the local media. (Antara Photo/Dedhez Anggara)

To Save Government's Blushes, Bandung-Bound Flights Must Now Land at Empty Kertajati Airport


JUNE 19, 2019

Jakarta. The government has decided that all domestic flights to Bandung, West Java, must land at Kertajati International Airport from the beginning of next month. 

The $245-million airport was supposed to be an upgrade to the old Husein Sastranegara International Airport in Bandung and is projected to be Indonesia's second-largest after Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Banten, Tangerang. 

But Kertajati has been mostly deserted since its inauguration in June last year, prompting many embarrassing images and headlines in the local media that serve as a snide rebuke of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's much-fabled infrastructure push.  

One of the snags at Kertajati has been the local government's failure to provide better access, making the three-hour trip to and from Bandung highly undesirable for both passengers and airline staff.

Meanwhile, skyrocketing airfares and the completion of the Trans-Java Toll Road meant many simply opted out of taking flights to Bandung. 

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi recently called a meeting with domestic airlines, West Java Deputy Governor Uu Ruzhanul Ulum, airport operators Angkasa Pura II and Bandara International West Java, and air traffic control agency AirNav Indonesia to try to find a solution.

In the end, they decided to transfer all domestic flights to and from Husein Sastranegara International Airport to Kertajati International Airport by July 1. 

"The central government is committed to all its stakeholders. [We want] the service at Kertajati to be smooth," Budi said in a statement on Tuesday. 

According to the minister, 56 takeoffs and landings on 13 domestic routes will be moved to Kertajati. International flights to Bandung will still land at Husein Sastranegara. 

Muhammad Awaluddin, managing director of Angkasa Pura II, said the airport operator is ready for the move. It will balance the load at Kertajati with those at the three closest airports: Husein Sastranegara, and Soekarno-Hatta and Halim Perdanakusuma in Jakarta.

Deputy Governor Uu welcomed the decision, saying it would boost the local economy.

Kertajati can handle 5 million passengers annually. It has been designed to eventually expand its capacity to 29.3 million passengers per year.