Lombok Airport to improve regional economic progress

Lombok Airport to improve regional economic progress

Lombok International Airport. (ANTARA/Ahmad Subaidi)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The new Lombok International Airport (BIL) in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) is believed to be a driving force for both the national and regional economic progress.

The much awaited airport which has been in operation since October 1, 2011 was 20 days later dedicated by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday.

On the occasion the head of state expressed optimism that the presence of the brand new aerodrome could improve economic progress in West Nusa Tenggara.

After delivering as short opening message, the head of state struck a drum and then signed an inscription to mark the inauguration of BIL, located at Tanak Awu village in Central Lombok district.

The airport inauguration ceremony was also enlivened with `Gendang Beleq Rembak` traditional dance and art performance.

President Yudhoyono after dedicating to airport also took a few minutes of his time to review its facilities and then planted a tembesi tree at the side of the 551.8-hectare aerodrome.

"Following the presence of this airport for the development of international tourism in this province, we hope the economy of the local people will get increasing," President Yudhoyono said.

In the company of First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, the head of state also said that to make the airport more competitive, its instruments and infrastructures should be immediately completed.

He also called for the improvement of safety and security factor at and around the airport, in addition to making its surrounding area green and lush.

"Make this airport surrounding area green and beautiful as soon as possible," the president said as he handed 10,000 trembesi trees to be planted around the airport.

Meanwhile, Governor Zainul Majdi reported that the mega project of BIL cost Rp 945.8 billion ($108 million) with PT Angkasa Pura-I shouldering Rp795.8 billion, West Nusa Tenggara provincial government Rp110 billion, and Central Lombok district government Rp40 billion.

According to the governor, the new Lombok airport has the runway of 2,750 meters and is capable to accommodate wide-body high capacity Airbus 330, Boeing 767 airliners as well as smaller aircraft such as Boeing 737 and Airbus 319-320.

"We are proud and happy that the much awaited dedication of the airport by President Yudhoyono is finally realized today," the governor said.

Therefore he expressed hope that expressed hope that the new Lombok International Airport would help improve the economy of local community, especially those living around the airport.

On the occasion, the newly inaugurated Transportation Minister Mangindaan said he believed that the new Lombok International Airport would serve as one of the gateways for international community, especially foreign tourists.

"We believe this new airport will be the driving force of both the national and regional economic progress," the transportation minister said.

Magindaan said West Nusa Tenggara indeed required a new airport as it was driven by rapid economic growth and increased traffic movements, including tourism sector in the province.

"The new airport in Lombok is a gateway for foreign tourists movement in West Nusa Tenggara," Magindaan said, adding that the Lombok International Airport would replace Selaparang Airport in Mataram.

Although BIL has been in operation since October 1, 2011, and dedicated by President Yudhoyono on October 20, the safety and security problem at and around the airport was still in public spotlight.

Since the new international airport is located in Lombok Tengah District, district head Suhaili said he would encourage the local people to support the operation of the airport and to ensure security and stability around it.

"I will certainly continue to encourage the local people to help ensure security and stability around the new airport to make its operation a success," Suhaili said in Central Lombok recently.

He made the statement to counter the view of certain parties who have expressed misgivings about security around Lombok International Airport.

Suhaili asserted the security at and around the airport should absolutely be ensured because it will have a direct impact on regional development.

"We fully realize it, and that we will continue to maintain and ensure the security around the airport in an effort to take positive benefit from its existence," Suhaili noted.

Meanwhile, Central Lombok Deputy District Head Lalu Normal Suzana said that since the operation of BIL, many of prospective passengers and airport visitors have been complaining about the lack of security condition.

He noted that Central Lombok district government would continue to make every effort to address various issues of security problems around and at the airport but it should be very careful in order to avoid new problems from happening.

"In spite of the problems, we will continue to keep the airport activities running smoothly," Lalu Normal said.

Therefore he called on Central Lombok district government authority to continue to raise public awareness about maintaining security around the new airport.

"We continue to raise the awareness of people living around the newly-opened airport to maintain and ensure security," Lalu Normal noted.

Besides unscrupulous thuggery by the surrounding communities, feverish actions along the access road to the airport are still happening.

In connection with the security situation which has yet to be conducive at and around the airport, he said the local authority should try to make surrounding communities aware of the importance of the new international airport at their area.

He admitted that the security guarantee around the airport should absolutely be improved for all parties because it would have a direct impact on the progress of surrounding villages.

"We realize it, and will continue to strive to take the positive benefits of the new international airport. There is `multiplier effect` from the presence of such a big airport and that the people have to support it from various aspects," he said.

The Indonesian government is actively promoting both Lombok and neighboring Sumbawa in the province as Indonesia`s number two tourism destinations after Bali.
(Uu.O001/ H-NG)