Dream Destination
    Category: Companies & People By : Ardian Wibisono Read : 1315 Date : Friday, October 17, 2014 - 00:17:50

    Courtesy of Gallant Venture

    For decades, Bintan has been a nice holiday spot for those looking for some sand and sun, but it has never been a major tourist hub. About half the 500,000 who visit each year are Singaporeans, who get to Bintan in about one hour by high-speed ferry. Now a bold plan put together by flag carrier PT Garuda Indonesia and Singapore’s Gallant Venture Ltd. aims to transform Bintan into a major tourist hub for the region.

    The plan is to construct a world-class international airport on Bintan that will include a maintenance, repair and operations facility
    (MRO) for aircraft. The lack of an international airport on Bintan is the main factor holding back Bintan’s tourist growth—travelers must transit through either Singapore or Jakarta. An international airport would allow direct flights, thus boosting the appeal of the resort island. The plan, in other words, is build it and they will come.

    The second part of the plan is the MRO. As part of safety regulations, airlines must meet stringent, and expensive, maintenance schedules for all their planes, and this work must be done in a MRO facility. For Indonesia’s growing number of aircraft and airlines, Garuda MRO subsidiary PT GMF Aeroasia (GMF) booked $230 million in revenues last year, and still has plenty of room for expansion.

    The total MRO market in Asia is $19 billion, so Garuda is looking for ways to tap this bigger market. By the end of the year GMF will open its fourth hangar in Soekarno-Hatta Airport, adding another 35% to its existing capacity, but it is still looking for other possibilities to grow. “With the growing market, we want to expand the business as fast as possible,” says GMF President Director Richard Budihadianto.

    Thus Gallant and Garuda found they had a natural basis for coop- eration. Earlier this year, the two announced their partnership—ironically around Valentine’s Day—to develop Bintan as a tourism and MRO hub. To start with, Gallant will invest in a $300 million airport with a three km-long runway and two wide-body maintenance hangars for GMF to rent. The airport will be located in the southern part of the island where Gallant manages 4,000 ha, including 200 ha of industrial park. The airport will be located about 20 minutes from the main resort areas, and is set to open in 2016. It makes history as the country’s first privately owned commercial airport. The other interesting feature is that with the accompanying industrial park, Gallant can provide space for all the companies that support airports, such as catering, fuel and vehicles.