Jakarta's busy Soekarno-Hatta airport will open a new terminal from the middle of next month, initially serving passengers on domestic and international flights by flag carrier Garuda Indonesia.
The modern Terminal 3 Ultimate, part of the capital's main Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang city, goes fully operational from next March, serving international flights from other carriers including Air France, China Airlines and Dutch carrier KLM. It is expected to become the only arrival and departure point for international passengers in future.
The 4.7 trillion rupiah (S$477 million) terminal will be able to handle 25 million passengers a year, adding to the airport's current capacity of 52 million.
"The terminal is our answer to passengers' dreams for an airport that has a large capacity, which is more comfortable and has better facilities and services," Mr Haerul Anwar, a spokesman for state airport operator Angkasa Pura II, told The Straits Times.
Spanning 422,804 sq m, the new terminal is slightly larger than Changi Airport's Terminal 3. It boasts 10 gates for international flights and 18 for domestic ones, two four-star hotels, meeting rooms, duty-free shops, retail outlets, restaurants and multi-storey carparks.
There will be skytrains to shuttle passengers between all three terminals, and commuter trains to take them to the city in less than an hour.
An automated baggage handling system featuring at least 13 conveyor belts, 206 check-in counters, and 38 self check-in and 12 bag drop counters, are expected to lead to swift clearance and shorter queues.
Officials hope that with the opening of the new terminal, Soekarno-Hatta would be able to rival Changi as well as Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), and lure international passengers to choose Jakarta as a transit point.
Mr Haerul disclosed that airlines would be given discounts on landing fees to offset the "refuelling costs which are 20 to 24 per cent higher than our neighbours' ".
He said the airport authority also intended to "showcase our deep culture and heritage and local talents to attract travellers", adding that art exhibitions, cultural shows and local dances will be held regularly.
Analysts, however, remained sceptical about the ambitious plans to take on Changi and KLIA.
"It will take our airport 20 years to reach Changi Airport's standard. These improvements are just the first step towards a long journey," said former lawmaker and aviation analyst Alvin Lie.
Indonesia's aviation industry sorely lags behind other countries', with a dismal air safety record, flight delays, poorly skilled workers and sloppy maintenance, said Mr Dudi Sudibyo, a senior editor of aviation magazine Angkasa.
Transport Ministry spokesman Hemi Pramuharjo said the new terminal was part of efforts to spruce up 29 international and 236 domestic airports across the country.
He told The Straits Times: "The demand for air transport is growing. The airport needs a makeover. We want to upgrade the facilities and optimise the integration of the aviation system."