Singapore-based developer Gallant Venture and Indonesian flag-carrier PT Garuda Indonesia have signed an MoU to turn Indonesia’s Bintan Airport into a major aviation hub.

The MoU will see the current airport, with its single 7,400-ft (2,250-m) runway, undergo a USD300 million development upgrade into a full-size widebody facility with two 12,000-ft (3,600-m) runways, extensive MRO capability and support and training facilities.

Situated a few miles from Singapore’s east coast, it is in close proximity to Changi Airport, and also just miles from Lion Air’s new hub on Batam island.

Garuda’s CEO, Emirsyah Satar, tells ShowNews the new facility will offer three hangars and more MRO capability than the airline’s currently overloaded base at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta. “This is a major development for us. It means we will be able to do our MRO right here, without sending our aircraft to Europe,” he says. Satar says he sees a tourism future for Bintan as good as that enjoyed by Bali.

The newly developed airport includes plans for an adjacent 177-hectare aerospace industry park, complete with engineering facilities, engine manufacturing and assembly and also an aviation academy.

Describing the deal as a “major milestone,” Satar says the MRO capability will start ramp-up from Q2 2014, with projected numbers of roughly 2,000 technicians by the end of 2015. The first scheduled Garuda flights from the airport are anticipated late in 2015.

Initial plans to develop an airport near the resorts zone on Bintan were shelved due to an unsuitable position, and lack of expansion capacity.

With an initial investment of USD300 million, developer Gallant Venture says it is already in discussions with other non-Indonesian airlines about using the facility as a major destination. It is also in talks with Changi Airport with a view to cooperating on various initiatives, adds Gallant Venture CEO Eugene Park.

“The big plus we offer is that we can guarantee Singapore-level quality of infrastructure; we own the land and can develop it properly,” he says.