There’s been talk of an airport being built in North Bali for the past several years, but a location in Bali’s northern Buleleng Regency has finally been agreed upon. However, a location permit has not yet been issued, Bali Province Governor Wayan Koster announced on Thursday.
The airport will be built in Kubutambahan on 420 hectares of “customary land”, according to an agreement between Buleleng Regency, Bali Province, and Indonesia’s Ministry of Transportation.
Koster says he met twice with Minister of Transportation leading up to the agreement. A feasibility study had been examining four different locations. The study was also looking at building a “floating airport” versus one on land.
“What we chose together with the regency government and the Ministry of Transportation has been established as a land (airport). The airport will be built in Kubutambahan and Sani Villages,” Koster said, as quoted by Tribun Bali.
Of the land, 370 hectares is in Kubutambahan Village and 50 hectares is in Sanih Village. The land used is “unproductive,” according to the governor.
However, the land still needs a location permit for construction to begin.
“The land is ready. The target is at the beginning of 2019 that the location permit can be issued,” Koster said.
Bali is requesting funding help from the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) Commission V, which handles infrastructure projects, since the province has a limited budget, according to Koster.
DPR Commission V Deputy Chairman, Lazarus, says he supports the construction of an airport in northern Bali to break up the tourism distribution on the island—where most tourism and development is concentrated in the south.
“Now it is concentrated in Kuta and surrounding areas because there is Ngurah Rai Airport. In order to have balance, it is better to build an airport in North Bali,” Lazarus said, as quoted by Tribun.
The deputy chairman added that Bali needs to be able to accommodate 37.6 million passengers per year, but as stands, the island’s main airport, I Gusti Ngurah Rai, can’t handle that.
“Now, there’s 21 million passengers. The existing facilities can only accommodate 24 million,” he said.
He estimates that in the next five years, the goal of 37.6 million can be fulfilled.
“So in our opinion, 2019 at the latest, the construction of the airport in North Bali should have started, or at least the location determination.”
Investor PT Pembari confirmed separately that it is coordinating with the Bali Provincial Government to do the land preparation and get the location permit.
“Yes, we are always updating our data with Bali Province Government regarding the process of obtaining permits and preparing land for the airport and other preparations,” PT Pembari Chairman Ketut Suardhana told Tribun.
There has been talk of an airport up on Bali’s lesser-developed north end for years, but little action. This is partly because of the challenge of land acquisition, an obstacle that the project had explored sidestepping by instead reclaiming land to build an artificial island. It had even seemed like the project was going to get cancelled earlier this year, but it looks like having Wayan Koster in the governor’s office could be what catalyzes the airport moving forward.