Travel agents in Bali are complaining that the manner in which the airport authority, PT Angkasa Pura I, manages Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport is both unprofessional and arbitrary.
Al Purwa, the chairman of the Bali branch of the Indonesian Association or Travel Agents (ASITA), told Bisnis Bali that the manner in which parking fees are collected is not in keeping with international practice and that there appears to be an element of coercion in other practices, such as fees imposed for floral leis presented to VIP passengers.
Purwa said that he hopes that once the current renovation program at the airport is completed that PT Angkasa Pura I can truly operate the air gateway to Bali to an international standard.
Pura, the chairman of the organization representing Bali’s licensed travel and tour companies, called into question the practice of charging a parking fee for all vehicles entering Bali’s airport, even when those vehicles only pick up or drop off a passengers without using the parking area.
Purwa complained that Bali’s airport should not be operating like a toll way, requiring everyone who enters the airport to pay a fee. “Don't let the inability of Angkasa Pura to manage the parking facility become the reason for charging everyone who passes through the airport to pay a parking fee,” said Purwa.
ASITA is calling on PT Angkasa Pura I to adopt a standard of practice in keeping with international standards. Virtually all airports around the world do not charge parking fees to vehicle merely passing through the airport without using the parking area. He said travel agents and others who are merely picking up an arriving passenger or dropping off a passenger should not be obliged to pay for parking they do not use.
A Flower Monopoly?
Purwa also complained about what appears to be abuse of power in PT Angkasa Pura I’s management of VIP welcome services used by ASITA members. Pura said that, unlike Bali, airports around the world do not compel those who use certain facilities at the airport to purchase floral leis.
On November 1, 2011, a circular letter was issued by PT Angkasa Pura I forbidding local travel agents from presenting flower leis to their arriving guests, requiring instead that they purchase floral leis from PT Penata Sarana, a company appointed by the airport, whenever a floral welcome is offered to arriving passengers.
Purwa said such a requirement was most peculiar, as travel agents have traditionally provided their own floral welcome for their VIP guests.
Continuing, Purwa questioned a fee of Rp. 1.2 million (US$133) charged for each group using a welcoming banner displayed at the airport and the high charge of Rp. 30,000 (US$3.33) levied for each floral lei given to an arriving passenger. ASITA is asking why the airport authority has appointed only one company to prepare floral welcomes, a decision in seeming violation of the anti-monopoly law of 1999.
Al Purwa acknowledged that PT Angkasa Pura I is given revenue target to meet in the operation of Bali’s airport, but, at the same time, does not think that fact alone justifies onerous and unusual fees levied on the island’s travel agents. Moreover, some agents are concerned that if they decide to present floral welcomes to passengers outside the main terminal area but still within the confines of the airport they will still be required to pay the Rp. 30,000 fee to PT Penata Sarana.
A separate report in NusaBali quotes Purwa as complaining about the over-proliferation of money-changers in the international arrival hall where, he claims, some 15 money changer harass arriving passengers. For comparison purposes, Purwa pointed to Singapore's Changi Airport where the entire money changing function is left to two operators.
Purwa also complained of the predatory behavior of porters at the airport who demand US$10 for use of free trolleys provided at the airport for arriving passengers.
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