President Director AP II Awaluddin - Photo by The Insider Stories

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The Government of Indonesia has announced 10 new destination brands, in support of the Wonderful Indonesia campaign, in the attempt to attract 15 million foreign tourists in 2017 and 20 million in 2018.

The 10 destinations are Bandung, Bali, Jakarta, Riau Islands, Joglosemar (Yogyakarta, Surakarta and Semarang), the Coral Wonders (Wakatobi, Bunaken and Raja Ampat), Medan, Makassar, Lombok and Banyuwangi.

As a part of this strategy, the government is coordinating with national airport operator PT Angkasa Pura (AP) II to support domestic tourism development in the 20 airports that it operates.

For The Insider Stories, President Director of AP II Muhammad Awaluddin explained how airport development can support government programs.

Q: What is the most progressive development that AP II can take credit for?

Silangit Airport

A: President Joko Widodo recently promoted the new 10 tourism destinations to the government of Singapore. Personally, I fully support these 10 new destinations, but they should be fitted with high-qualification infrastructure, including airports. This is related to us (AP II).

Silangit Airport (North Sumatra) is making rapid progress. Silangit Airport connects tourist to Lake Toba (the largest body of fresh water in South East Asia); not to focus only on domestic tourists, we are trying to make Silangit an international airport to attract more foreign tourists in the future.

We are extending a 2,650 meter runway and look to enlarge its capacity. We have already spent approximately Rp200 billion on the extension, aprons and terminal, and this figure will probably rise by Rp30-Rp50 billion next year. This shows how AP II is very concerned in supporting infrastructure development, not only for vital public access but also for our tourism sector.

Q: The Ministry of Transportation finally will soon hand over the management of Blimbungsari Airport in Banyuwangi Regency, East Java to AP II. How is AP II preparing to manage it? 

A: The handover will be completed this October. Besides connectivity, we are also supporting the community and tourism. Banyuwangi is a very prominent new destination in East Java, and still domestically oriented. However, in the future I believe visitor numbers will grow by its natural potential; thus we have to readjust airport philosophy into an international standard.

Q:  What is AP II’s strategy to make this development directly useful for passengers?

A: For instance, at Soekarno-Hatta Airport (Jakarta) we already erected a Tourist Information Center, with a digital approach. We acknowledge that recently tourists are not into brochures and booklets, but rather appreciate digital visuals.

Q: Does AP II also involve the private sector in developing infrastructure?

A: We have a number of cooperation schemes, including ones with the private sector, so we can learn more from them. There is also one opportunity that we aim to exploit: we are currently working with Bintan Aviation Investment in Riau Island to develop a private airport that will enhance the resort facility in Bintan. If this cooperation succeeds, this project will be the first Indonesian airport with resort facilities, similar to Phuket, Koh Samui (Thailand).

Q: How big is the potential market?

Bintan Airport

A: Bintan region already has captive market that can be sold immediately. There are certain investors and tourists from China, Europe, the Middle East, India and several neighboring countries who customarily visit Bintan as their second destination. With the ease of visa or immigration facilities support, tourists can stay longer in Bintan.

Q: How many airports will benefit from similar development?

A: We are looking at nine airports, including Banyuwangi (East Java), Tanjung Pandan (Belitung) and Tanjung Lesung (Banten).

Q: How many passengers does AP II want to achieve this year?

A: We aim this year to secure 100 million passengers. As part of this strategy, we have to find new production tools to enable double-digit growth; for instance, we can do what the government assigns to us. I assume that Java – such as Soekarno-Hatta airport – could still grow until 7 percent per year, but for areas outside Java like Sumatra, growth could reach 25 percent per year.

Q: How much investment do you expect to build up infrastructure?

A: Next year would be similar to this year: approximately for Rp11 trillion (US$143 billion),

Q: Beside airports, is there any business diversification in AP II? 

A: Based on airport business entities, we only have two kind of enterprise: airport service and airport support facilities like hotels and property.

Q: How does leadership determine your company strategy?

A: In the airport business, we have to become participative persons because there are so many stakeholders here: there are 52 airlines, air navigators and traffic controllers.  We have to put aside our egos and become selfless. Listen more than speak.

Writing by Linda Silaen and M Eddy Sofyan, Email: