Bandar Seri Begawan (The Brunei Times/ANN) - Brunei International Airport's new arrival and departure terminal is expected for completion in October 2013, in time for the second Asean Summit that will be held in Brunei.
"I understand that there will be two Asean Summits, one in April and one in November, but the one in April will be strained because the terminal will be more or less in the same stage of completion," the Minister of Development said yesterday.
The Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) organised a foundation laying ceremony which saw the Minister of Communications, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Abdullah Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, casting cement for one of the major support columns for the new hall.
The minister said that the main terminal, which is expected to be completed in October next year, will feature a new meeters and greeters hall and other facilities.
During a briefing conducted by the Changi Airport Consultant Pte Ltd and Aecom Asia Co. Ltd. at the airport yesterday, officials said the asphalt for the new car park will be laid in time for the annual Haj pilgrimmage, which will take place at the end of the year.
The minister acknowledged that it is "quite a monumental task" but not "absolutely necessary".
"Unless there is a very distinct advantage to have it [the carpark at the main airport terminal], I don't think we will be working too hard towards that because the passageway is quite congested," said the minister.
Authorities are also mulling plans to create a makeshift meeters and greeters hall at the Indoor Stadium in Berakas to shift the traffic away from the airport, said the minister.
"I think that will be a better solution, but we are still looking at the solutions," he said, adding that the Ministry of Communications is working closely with the Ministry of Religious Affairs on this issue.
Upon the completion of the upgrade works, the airport parking will be increased to 1,600 slots.
The ministry is also coming up with new incentives to attract more airlines to enter Brunei, which comes in the form of landing charges, among others.
"We are doing that not just because of the new airport, because the airport is only a small component of it. The biggest component is what people see in Brunei and why do they want to come to Brunei," he said. The ministry is also working to make the airport operations "as seamless as possible" with the ongoing upgrade works, he said.
Also present at the ceremony was Dato Paduka Hj Ali Hj Apong, the Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister's Office and Chairman of the BEDB; Awg Mutalib Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohamad Yusof, the Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communications; and senior officials from the BEDB and the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).
The project is expected to be completed in approximately 36 months.
The minister said that it is "too soon to tell" whether the overall upgrade works will be completed by the due date, November 7, 2014.
In light of the current major construction works at the airport, the BEDB and the DCA is seeking the public's cooperation and consideration and encouraged outbound passengers to plan their travels in advance.
"Both agencies will also ensure that the public and other stakeholders will be well informed in advance of any other major works undertaken at the airport," the BEDB said in a statement released yesterday.