State-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II has confirmed expansion plans for Silangit Airport in North Sumatra are already underway, with a view to accommodating the growing number of tourists travelling to the region and improving access to nearby Lake Toba.
The work includes a new terminal and extension of the length and width of the existing runway, which will enable larger planes to land. As an international airport, Silangit Airport will also be equipped with new customs, immigration and quarantine offices. The work is expected to be completed by 15th September 2017.
Expansion of the airport has been initiated in response to the rapidly growing popularity of the region. Silangit is a crucial stepping-stone for foreign tourists wishing to visit Lake Toba; an area of outstanding natural beauty, which has previously been limited in its popularity by issues relating to accessibility and logistics.
“The renovation of Silangit Airport will help increase air connectivity to support economic and tourism growth at Lake Toba,” AP II president director Muhammad Awaluddin said in an official statement.
The prudence of Silangit’s expansion can be seen in the number of tourists passing through the airport’s gates over the past year. Arrivals at Silangit reached 124,000 in the first quarter of 2017; representing a 400 per cent growth compared to the same period last year. Following completion of the expansion work, this number is forecasted to reach as many as 300,000 passengers by the end of the year. Silangit Airport’s annual passenger capacity is expected to reach 500,000 passengers by 2019.
Visitors to Silangit are predominantly from Singapore Changi Airport, Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Suvarnabhumi Airport. Silangit currently serves two airlines – Garuda Indonesia and Sriwijaya – with Lion Air soon to follow.
North Sumatra – and particularly the Lake Toba region – is central to Indonesian government plans to develop tourism throughout the country. Minister for Tourism, Arief Yahya, has confirmed an ambitious 20 trillion rupiah (US$2.25 billion) investment in North Sumatra that will facilitate access to tourism hotspots. The latest investment in expanding Silangit Airport fits into the government’s wider initiatives for infrastructure projects in the region.