Is it worth building the proposed North Bali airport?

An update on the newsletter format as Living In Asia evolves, thoughts on the proposed second Bali airport, and news from around Southeast Asia on construction and transport projects.

Hello from Ho Chi Minh City! I got back from the central coast of Vietnam this week, so I will have some updates about Danang and Hoi An in the next few weeks.

Newsletter News and Site Update

Starting from this week I’m changing the format of the newsletter as the site continues to evolve. The monthly round-up post will be discontinued, and instead, news and site updates will go out weekly to all subscribers.

Part of my system of researching for articles involves curating news articles for each project. When I started out I barely had enough news content to make a monthly news round-up. Now, I have so many news sources and email alerts in place that it makes more sense to post this news every week.

Since starting this new newsletter in April, I committed myself to post a new article every week. So far I’ve kept on track with weekly publishing (usually on Tuesday). As a result of this consistency, I’m getting decent search engine traffic to the site. I now need to grow the audience beyond one-time search readers, so this newsletter will become weekly.

Latest Posts at Living In Asia

North Bali International Airport

North Bali International Airport (Bandara International Bali Baru) is a proposed second airport in the north of Bali, Indonesia. 

Out of all the proposed airports in Southeast Asia, North Bali Airport might be the worst of the lot. I thought this project would have quietly been put in the too-hard basket during the great pandemic, but then I got a news alert about this project in October. I don’t think it will be built, but I have made a fact sheet for future reference.

I don’t envy the decision-makers on what to do with Bali’s airport problem. The current airport only has one runway, so matter how many new terminals they build they can only serve a limited number of flights per hour. I found this out on my last trip to Bali when our flight was stuck on the tarmac for over half an hour.

[Vietjet Air at DPS.]

What are Bali’s airport options?

The most obvious first option is expanding the current airport. When you look at the satellite map you will see why this hasn’t happened, and probably never will.

[View map of Ngurah Rai International Airport.]

I’ve drawn a rough line where a second runway would need to go, as well as the expansion of the airport property. As you can see it would require the acquisition of hundreds of properties, as well as destroying a beach.

The second option is the current plan for a new airport near Singaraja in the north. You have the same problem there of acquiring land, thus the idea of building the airport in the sea. There still needs to be a landside section though, and acquiring land is already proving difficult.

If by some miracle this airport is built, the next problem is getting everyone from the airport to the south. Airport supporters are talking up the prospect of the airport opening up tourism in the north. There’s no way of knowing exactly how many will stay in the north, but one estimate says that around 95 percent of all arrivals will want to travel south.

Kubutambahan (the proposed airport location) is 95 km from Kuta Beach, so an airport in the sea would be 100 km from Kuta. To put that in perspective, the distance between Shanghai Pudong Airport and The Bund is 45 km by road. Much of that route is covered with the Maglev (the fastest commercial train in the world).

There is talk of a north-south tollway being built, but that won’t be for the entire trip. Previous plans for the airport also included a railway from the airport. There have also been plans for a Bali railway, but at this point they are still deciding over how to build the first 5 km. The tollway and railway have the same problem as the two airports - there is no land reserved for such projects. As I said, I don’t envy whoever is urban planning in Bali.

Another airport was proposed in the far west of the island in Jembrana Regency. When looking at the map I imagined it to be like a new Changi Airport, tucked away in the far corner of the island. Then I remembered that Bali is eight times the size of Singapore. Jembrana is also 100 km from Kuta, so that is not a solution either.

Looking at this, I don’t see the new airport as a solution to Bali’s air travel woes (assuming that air travel gets back to pre-pandemic levels again). Maybe a capped amount of flights at DPS would be a way of containing over-tourism in the future. They would be better off spending money on fixing roads and building a rail transit system.

Updated Posts

Laos

Laos-China railway may not be completed on schedule

Malaysia

Last week there was a news story that suggested that Malaysia might build the KL-Singapore high-speed rail project without Singapore. Malaysia have since said that they remain in discussions. It would be ridiculous to build the railway without including Singapore, so my guess is that Malaysia are bluffing to try and cut a better deal. The new deadline for this stalled project is December 31, so hopefully there is good news on this in January.

Thailand

B40bn high-speed train contracts inked

Other News

Cambodia

Cambodia’s aim in trade deals: keep the US and Japan close, but China closer

Cambodia begins US$150 million road project

“SIEM REAP: The government will construct 38 roads here to modernise the city and improve the tourism experience in the renowned travel destination.”

China

A wealth of adjectives: Ways to describe amazing Chinese high-rise buildings

Foster + Partners wins competition to design Guangming Hub, a new transport oriented development in China

China-Laos Railway completes construction of 17.5-km-long tunnel

“Part of the China-Laos railway, a 17.5-km-long tunnel was completed on Saturday in southwest China's Yunnan Province after four years of arduous efforts.”

Indonesia

Indonesia’s 5 New Bali: Ministry ready to develop infrastructure

“His aim is to create connectivity to high priority tourist destinations, being called the “5 new Bali”; Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Borobudur in Magelang, Mandalika in Lombok, Bunaken in Sulawesi, and Bangka Belitung.”

Bali's villa-building boom defies COVID economic slump

Malaysia

Putrajaya pulls back govt guarantee for Penang's US$500m loan to finance LRT project

“Putrajaya has decided not to proceed to grant a government guarantee for a US$500 million (RM2.04 billion) loan application by Penang to partly finance its RM9.5 billion light rail transit (LRT) project.”

Malaysia in China’s Belt and Road

Johor to develop agriculture, export more food to Singapore, says Chief Minister on COVID-19 economic pivot

Singapore

First civil contract awarded for JB-Singapore RTS Link

“The first civil contract for the construction of the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link, a rail shuttle service between the two countries, was awarded on Thursday (Nov 26).”

Geylang terrace house owner refuses to sell unit, condo developers forced to build around it

For Asia’s super-rich, Singapore family offices keep the wealth churning – but Hong Kong wants a piece of the pie too

Thailand

Committee formed to push common ticket system for public transport

“A study on Common Ticketing System had been done in 2017. The system was expected to be launched around October 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic became an obstacle to test the system as developers based in Singapore could not work as regularly.”

Songkhla to Phatthalung by new bridge across Songkhla Lake a step closer to reality

Progress on bridge to connect Koh Lanta with mainland

“An environmental impact assessment (EIA) is being conducted for a bridge to connect Koh Lanta with the mainland in Krabi province”.

Pattaya City planning to bring down and demolish the abandoned Waterfront condo on Bali Hai Pier “ASAP” and bill the owners

Pattaya authorities set their eyes on 58 structures and resorts allegedly encroaching on the ocean on Koh Larn

Vietnam

Foxconn to expand production in Vietnam with $270m investment

“Taiwan company, seeking bases outside China, aims to take advantage of RCEP pact.”

Road from HCMC to run along entire Mekong Delta coast