togettobaliThe Indonesian government is now preparing five major international airports to implement the ASEAN open sky agreement, which will become fully effective in 2015. The five airports include Ngurah Rai airport in Bali; Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta; Ir. Juanda airport in Surabaya, Sultan Hasanudin airport in Makasar and Polonia in Medan. The ASEAN open sky agreement is an air transportation liberalization scheme that took effect in December 2008 and is scheduled to be fully implemented by 2015. The agreement will allow regional air carriers to make unlimited flights to all 10 ASEAN member states — Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The agreement will practically remove all barriers for foreign carriers to serve the domestic market, but they will still have to comply with the IATA (International Air Transport Association) regulations. Indonesia had previously requested that full implementation of the open sky policy be postponed, saying the domestic airline industry was not ready. When the agreement takes full force, it is likely to start a new era of low-cost regional flights and change the course of countries that protect their domestic markets by barring low-cost foreign carriers. However, ASEAN member countries are still following a bilateral agreement to regulate the operation of foreign carriers on domestic routes in any member country. Herry Bakti, director general for air transportation at the Ministry of Transportation, said that both national and local carriers, as well as airport managements, must be ready to enter the new open sky era by improving their facilities and services to compete with regional counterparts. He said that the five international airports in Indonesia are now ready to take part in the open sky policy. “We are now implementing major renovations at Ngurah Rai International Airport to accommodate large-body aircraft. If necessary, we will include more airports in the coming years,” Bakti told reporters in Denpasar on Tuesday. Currently, Indonesia has 29 international airports and 204 domestic airports; around 16 airlines are now plying 220 domestic routes across 107 cities. There are 11 national carriers, which cater to international routes connecting 12 cities in Indonesia with 23 cities in 13 countries. “The competition will be very tough, especially with regional carriers such as Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines,” he said. Bakti said that there are limitations in every airport in Indonesia. Ngurah Rai airport, for instance, only has one runway to fly 20 million passengers annually. The airport’s annual growth in passengers stands at between 12 and 15 percent. “Despite the ongoing renovation project, Ngurah Rai airport can no longer be expanded,” he said. The planned development of a new international airport in Buleleng regency might be the only option for Bali if it wants to attract more airlines and passengers to the island. “We are hoping that the development of Buleleng airport will start no later than 2017.” Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya, chairman of the Bali branch of the Indonesian Tourism Association, said the inclusion of Ngurah Rai airport to support the implementation of the open sky policy would have a positive impact on the island’s tourism. “The government, as well as the airlines, has to open new routes connecting Bali with remote regions, especially in the eastern part of Indonesia. This will really support our ‘Bali and Beyond’ tourist programs.” Separately, Didi Triatmojo, general manager of Garuda Indonesia’s Bali office, said that the company is planning to open new routes from Bali to several cities in easternIndonesia. “We will use 100-seat capacity aircraft to serve these routes, hopefully by November this year.” Source: Bali Daily