Halim Perdanakusuma Air Base Dispute

Air Chief Marshal Chappy Hakim
Chappy Hakim, The 2002-2005 Air Force Chief of Staff and author of “Tanah Air Udaraku Indonesia”

The lack of national flight planning management, particularly the management of commercial aviation, e.g., the Hajj fights. 

The management of Hajj fights has somehow been repeatedly bounced from Cengkareng to Halim and from Halim to Cengkareng. 

Determining international airports has it seems consistently been a blunder: constructing Kertajati Airport turned out to be superfluous and many national airlines going belly-up and declaring bankruptcy are case studies in a lack of national fight planning and management. 

On the other hand, new airport construction is highly appreciated as an achievement. However, failure to anticipate the surge in passenger numbers over the years and inconsistent development of SHIA resulted in airport overcapacity concerns in Cengkareng. 

The worst case of airport overcapacity occurred in January 2014, when fights in Cengkareng had to be transferred to Halim, in the name of optimizing usage of Halim Perdanakusuma Airport facilities. 

Later on, it was reported that fight passengers did in fact prefer to depart from Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base since it is located closer to the city center. Many airlines soon bowed to passengers’ preference and added more commercial flight destinations, especially the lucrative domestic routes. 

This has further triggered more complicated arrangements for Halim Perdanakusuma Airport. A second wave of chaos ensued. 

A confusing start in 1985 and 2014 passenger turmoil resulted in the 2022 Halim Airbase Dispute. This confrontation was born from the womb of the obscure development of commercial aviation operating out of Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base. 

Operating commercial fights at Halim has revealed some financial gains and opportunities without requiring a lot of capital or investment. A very reasonable opportunity that has invited many parties and businesses from SOEs, and private businesses to share the cake. 

Meanwhile, during the entire episode of the Halim commercial aviation dispute, no party has thought about the considerable loss the Indonesian Air Force had suffered from all this. 

Such actual losses are directly related to state duties in carrying out defense and security missions: the working mechanisms of the national air defense system, which is an utterly unattractive domain for business, as it does not provide any direct financial benefits. An area that is often left ignored – the country has been safe and peaceful, has it not? 

Why keep ourselves busy with the state’s defense and security affairs? The Indonesian Air Force and Halim Air Force Base had to suffer losses because of this dispute. To name one: delayed fight operations and training since January 2022, as Halim Air Base has been forced to close for months only for runway repairs. 

All parties should have known that Halim was not designed to serve commercial civil aviation operations with their heavy traffic and loaded Boeing 747s for nearly 24 hours a day.