Ternate, North Maluku (ANTARA News) - The Transportation Ministry and Indonesian Air Force have reached an agreement to allow Morotai airport in North Maluku which has so far served as an air force base to also function as a commercial airport, a provincial administration official said.
A memorandum of understanding to formalize the agreement will soon be signed by the ministry, the Air Force Headquarters and the North Maluku provincial government, Muhadjir Albar, the North Maluku Provincial Administraion`s secretary, said here Saturday.
Morotai airport is located on Morotai Island where the Allied Forces of World War II built a vast air base to support their campaign against imperial Japan. It has seven aprons of which only one is currently being used by the Indonesian Air Force.
Muhadjir said with the Air Force having agreed to also use Morotai as a commercial airport, it was now important to make it operational ahead of the opening of Sail Morotai, an international marine event, on September 8, 2012.
The Transportation Ministry had already earmarked Rp20 billion in state budget funds to expand Morotai airport`s runway while the North Maluku provincial government would pay for the construction of a passenger terminal and supporting facilities.
With Morotai airport also functioning for commercial aviation, it was hoped North Maluku would also become more accessible to investors because the existence of adequate air transportation facilities was usually a prime consideration in investors` decision to operate in a certain region, he said.
The provincial government was in fact planning to develop Morotai airport into an international aerodrome as it was quite strategically located at the edge of the Pacific Ocean and on the path of international flights.
A number of national airline companies had already expressed interest in opening regular routes to Morotai airport when it had started operating commercially, Muhadjir said.