Syahrul, a resident of Banda Aceh, said he intentionally came with his family members to the airport just to watch the wide-body Boeing 747-400 jetliner made maiden landing on Sultan Iskandar Muda airport, located some 15 km from city center.
Now serving several national airlines such as Garuda Indonesia, Lion, Adam Air, Sriwijaya, Mandala and now Air Asia for direct flights to Kuala Lumpur, Sultan Iskandar Muda Airport is the only airport in Aceh which has been renovated after it was heavily damaged by a devastating tsunami on December 26, 2004.
"It is a historic moment for most of the people of Aceh, and for the Sultan Iskandar Muda airport to be first to be touched down by a Boeing 747-400 strato-cruiser," Syahrul said.
He noted that following the successful landing and taking off of the Boeing 747-400, it proved that the airport, which was renovated by Aceh and Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Board (BRR), could be transit aerodrome for international airline companies.
"We hear that before the Boeing jetliner makes its first landing, transportation officials checked the runway of SIM airport to make sure it is ready to be landed by the wide-body aircraft.
The arrival of Boeing 747-400 aircraft which was contracted by Garuda Indonesia was also customarily greeted by officials at the provincial levels of government, among others provincial legislative assembly deputy chairman Sulaiman Abda, Aceh Besar district head Bukhari Daud, and Banda Aceh deputy mayor Illiza Sa`aduddin Djamal.
Piloted by Captain Yose Carmona and co-pilot Raul Baregon of Spain, the Boeing 747-400 landed at Sultan Iskandar Muda airport at 6.30 local time on Sunday morning and then took of 8.45 with 455 prospective hajj pilgrims from Aceh province to Saudi Arabia. (*)