DOTC allots P1.1B for Bicol, Mindanao airportsBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The government is set to replace the Legazpi Airport in Albay as the Bicol region’s major hub with a new international airport capable of accommodating more passengers to cater to the area’s growing needs.
A new international airport is also set to be built in Central Mindanao for the provinces of Cotabato, Lanao del Sur, Bukidnon, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat, where 3.5 million people reside.
A total of P1.1 billion will be spent for the construction of both facilities, the Department of Transportation and Communications said in a statement Friday.
In an invitation to bid published Friday, the DOTC said the government was pursuing these projects as part of its commitment to provide convenient, affordable, reliable, efficient and safe transport services.
About P963.2 million is allotted for the development of the new Bicol International Airport, which will provide better air transport services in the region.
The DOTC said it was imperative to develop a new international airport in Bicol to solve the many limitations of the Legazpi Airport.
In 2011, the Legazpi Airport recorded a total of 198 cancelled and 104 delayed flights attributed to the airport’s microclimate.
The microclimate is due mostly to the mountainous area surrounding Legazpi airport, which produces a thick fog that often obscures the runway.
The installation of an Instrument Landing System (ILS) is not a viable option as the existing 150-meter width of the runway strip is far from the International Civil Aviation Organization-prescribed width of 300 meters for ILS.
Besides addressing current problems, the development of a new Bicol International Airport will also support the increasing trade and tourism in the region.
In 2009, Bicol’s gross regional domestic product grew by 8.2 percent—higher than any of the country’s other 16 regions.
This is further boosted by the 17-percent increase in the number of visitors from 2010 to 2011, as popular destinations like Mt. Mayon and Donsol continue to draw local and international tourists.
Meanwhile, the DOTC said P154.5 million will be spent for the development of the Central Mindanao Airport in M’lang, Cotabato, intended to operate as a feeder airport to the air terminals located in the coasts of Mindanao: the Cagayan de Oro, Davao and General Santos Airports.
The majority of provinces in Central Mindanao such as Cotabato, Lanao del Sur, Bukidnon, Maguindanao, and Sultan Kudarat have no convenient access to airports. At present, people in these provinces need to travel two to three hours by land to get to the airports located in the coastal cities of Mindanao, the DOTC said.
Once operational, the airport is projected to serve a population base of 3.5 million people in Cotabato and its neighboring cities and provinces.
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