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Notohadinegoro Airfield Disused

JEMBER – For more than two years, the Notohadinegoro Airfield in Jember, located in Wirowongso Village, Ajung Sub-district, has not been used for any aviation activities. And this year there is no funding at all – neither operational nor maintenance.

"The airfield should just be left in its damaged state. If it is damaged, we can later propose a budget for repairs. This is assuming there are airlines that want to fly planes to Notohadinegoro," said Moch. Asir, Jember Regional Parliament (DPRD) Commission C Chairman, yesterday. 

According to Asir, last year there was still funding from both the regency and provincial budgets. However, because the airport is not operating, this year there has been no funding allocation. The existence of this airfield that has not been operating is a waste of the allocated budget. Since 2003, about Rp 30 billion in funds has been spent on Notohadinegoro. "But the airfield cannot be used," said the PDI-P (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle) politician.

Asir has invited the public to use the airfield for activities such as drying rice and tobacco. "We have always encouraged the local government (executive branch) to find an airline. If there ever are any, then of course we will maintain it again," he said. 

Head of Jember Transportation Office (Dishub), Sunarsono, says that the transportation office has actually tried to secure funds to manage the stalled airfield. "In April we asked for Rp 80 billion from the state budget (APBN) since the regency and provincial budgets are inadequate," he said.

According to Sunarsono, there has been no confirmation yet on whether the request is approved. But he vowed to continue lobbying the central government. 

Several airlines have proposed to cooperate in operating the airfield. "The latest one is a company from Malaysia. But the offer is conditional on the facilities being repaired," said Sunarsono.

In 2008, Notohadinegoro Airport operated for only three months with one airline, PT Aero Express International. At the end of that year, the contract with the airline was terminated. Since then, no airline has been operating there. 

During the airfield's three months of operations, the Jember Regency Government even made losses because they used an aircraft leasing system. And this aircraft leasing case raised legal issues for three officials, namely the Head of Jember Transportation Office, Sunarsono, the former director of PDP Syafril Jaya, and the President Director of PT Aero Express International Raymont Mailangkai. The Attorney General's Office has estimates that the state’s losses arising from this case amount to Rp 5 billion. MAHBUD DJUNAIDY