Medan’s New Airport Opens Amid Gripes Over Rail Fares
By Happy Amanda Amalia & Arnold H. Sianturi on 10:14 pm July 25, 2013.
Tags: Kuala Namu International Airport
Workers construct a railway platform at Medan’s new Kuala Namu International Airport. The airport will open on Thursday, but it lacks a road connecting it directly to the city. (JG Photo/Meli Yanti)
North Sumatra’s new airport started operations on Thursday, marked by the departure of Garuda Indonesia’s flight GA 0181 bound for Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
State Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan closed the old Polonia airport just before midnight on Wednesday after the arrival of an AirAsia flight from Bandung, West Java.
Tri Sunoko, president director of the state-controlled airport operator Angkasa Pura II, on Wednesday said all operations from Polonia airport have now been transferred to the new Kuala Namu International Airport (KNIA) in Medan.
North Sumatra deputy governor Tengku Erry Nuradi said residents have been waiting a long time for the new airport.
“After 19 years of waiting, since 1994, Kuala Namu Airport is finally ready. With the presence of Kuala Namu, we hope the people of North Sumatra can revive and achieve many things that have not yet been achieved,” Erry said.
The airport is served by Indonesia’s first-ever airport rail service. The rail link is expected to accommodate at least 20 percent of the estimated 21,000 passengers passing through the airport daily.
However, many residents have complained about the rail tariff, set at Rp 80,000 ($7.80) from the Medan station to the airport, saying it was too burdensome.
“Not all of the people who are users of KNIA come from the middle-income class or are businesspeople. Many people from lower economic groups also travel by air. The low-income earners fly for urgent matters,” Supriadi, a Medan resident, said on Thursday.
Supriadi added that he hoped the government and the rail link operator would not commercialize the service, saying KNIA should create job opportunities rather than problems.
“Let’s say four people in a family take the train to KNIA or to a station in Medan [from the airport], they have to pay Rp 320,000. That’s not worth it, compared to when the family takes a taxi operated by the private sector. How is it possible that transportation operated by the private sector can be cheaper?” he quizzed.