Medan’s much-awaited Kuala Namu International Airport is set to begin operations starting Thursday, July 25, 2013, said Airport Director of PT Angkasa Pura II, Salahuddin Rafi to the press. The first aircraft to take off from Kuala Namu is expected to be a Garuda Indonesia plane, leaving Medan, capital of North Sumatra, at 0600 hours West Indonesia Time.
Kuala Namu Airport will be the second largest airport in Indoneisa after the Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta to replace the present Polonia airport, which is already the fourth busiest airport in the country after Jakarta, Bali and Surabaya. Medan is the main gateway to the tourist wonders around the magnificent, huge Lake Toba.
Built on the former plantation of the PT Perkebunan Tanjung Morawa in Deli Serdang, the Kuala Namu International Airport, has a runway of 3,750 meters by 60 meters to allow landing and take-off of wide-bodied aircrafts. The airport is built to serve 9 million passengers in its first phase, and 16 million passengers in its second phase, catering to 4.5 million international passengers and 2.6 million international transit passengers. The terminal covers a 6.5-hectare area, with 3.5 hectares for commercial use.
Simulations and airport technical and navigational checks have been meticulously made since January this year and all are confirmed ready. The airport is 100 percent ready to operate, confirmed Salahuddin to Bisnis Indonesia, although the toll road and highway to the airport from Medan are at the moment as yet 98% completed. The delay in construction has been caused by difficulties in land acquisition.
During the transition period, Medan will be served by two airports simultaneously, as Polonia airport will continue to operate, while Kuala Namu undergoes its initial operations.
Meanwhile, access to and from the airport must still be made through the old road between Medan and the town of Kuala Namu, some 19 km northeast of Medan and the present Polonia Airport. Passengers will be able to take Damri buses and Trans Medan mini buses between the airport and the city.
An airport train line will carry passengers to and from Medan 15 times a day, with a capacity of 172 passengers. The trains and equipment are made in South Korea, the first set is to arrive in early August and the second in December this year. In the meantime, INKA, the Indonesian Rail construction company, will support the route with Indonesian-made carriages. This will be the first airport train in Indonesia.
Construction on the Kuala Namu International Airport has been delayed a number of times. Originally planned in 1991, it was postponed as a result of the Asian Economic Crisis. Nonetheless, today, since the airport is key in the country’s Accelerated Economic Plan (MP3EI), and an important hub in the ASEAN Open Sky 2015 accord, the Kuala Namu Airport has been the focus for the economic development for the whole of Sumatra.
Medan’s present Polonia Airport, which is located on the outskirts of Medan, and built some 70 years ago, is already over-congested. Its location too near to the city endangers both airplanes as well as local residents.
Medan has a very busy domestic air traffic. Its airport receives many international flights. SilkAir and ValuAir fly from Singapore to Medan, while Kuala Lumpur and Penang are served from Medan by AirAsia, Malaysian Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Firefly, Mandala Airlines (through Tiger Airways), and Srivijaya Air flights. AirAsia Indonesia flies to Medan from Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Hong Kong.