North Bali airport project set to take off next year

Pemuteran Bay. Photo: Coconuts Bali
Pemuteran Bay. Photo: Coconuts Bali

Bali Governor Wayan Koster joined representatives from the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation in Lovina yesterday for a public consultation to discuss the particulars of the Buleleng airport project.

Though the past few years have seen much talk of a north-coast airport for Bali, there has been little real action. However, in recent months the project seems to have gained momentum again.

“We have been waiting for this. I can now say that airport development is at a concrete stage. At the beginning it was only a discourse, but now it is ready for implementation, we just need to confirm the location,” said Governor Koster in his written statement yesterday.

It is hoped that an international airport will open up Bali’s more secluded northern destinations to international tourism, and help bridge the prosperity and development gaps between the island’s south and north.

Due to limitations in the state budget, the plan will be financed by the Government and Business Entity Cooperation scheme, an initiative that facilitates private contributions for infrastructure development.

According to a report in Tribun Bali, there has been much lively discussion over the exact location of the new airstrip. Out of the three potential locations—Kubutambahan, Celukan Bawang, and Letkol Wisnu, which is already home to a small airfield—the village of Kubutambahan has come out on top, despite the objections of local village head, Ketut Arcana.

“If the airport is built in Kubutambahan village, then local customs, culture and wisdom will be destroyed,” he commented to the source. Arcana was reportedly referring to the 18 temples in the area.

Nur Hakim, team leader in the feasibility study for the North Bali airport, responded to Arcana’s concerns, maintaining that Kubutambahan was still the best choice for the construction of the airport.

“There are pluses and minuses. Kubutambahan has quite uneven ground, so it will be more expensive to build there. But there are relatively less temples there than in the other locations,” he explained.

As long as the official decision on location is agreed upon by the central government next year, Koster hopes that the airport—which will ease access to the beautiful coastal destinations of Tejakula, Lovina, and Pemuteran—will be completed by 2024.

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