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PAL seeking Calbayog airport upgrade

Vol. XXI, No. 249 [ BusinessWorld Online ]
Monday, July 21, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

CALBAYOG CITY, SAMAR — Philippine Airlines has requested President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to upgrade the airport here in anticipation of increased flight services of airline companies.

PAL President Jaime Bautista, who met with Ms. Arroyo after the inaugural Manila-Calbayog flight of PAL Express, said the President was receptive to his request. "She said that she will seriously look at it," he told reporters.

PAL Express, PAL’s budget carrier, opened the Manila-Calbayog service 10 years after PAL pulled out as it underwent corporate rehabilitation.

Mr. Bautista said priority projects at the airport will include asphalt overlay of the runway extension, installation of runway lights, expansion of the turning pad and construction of perimeter concrete fencing. A baggage carousel, X-ray machine and walkthrough metal detectors are also necessary at the passenger terminal, he added.

Calbayog City Mayor Mel Sarmiento said the circa 1970s airport’s runway is 1,476 meters long; preparations are being made to extend this by 200 meters.

"The embankment is now ready. We just need funds to start the expansion. Our goal is to meet the international requirement of the runway to accommodate bigger aircraft in the future," he said.

Ms. Arroyo welcomed PAL’s move to resume flights to Calbayog through PAL Express. "The coming of PAL is an assurance that Samar is peaceful. I am here to see what else we can do in Samar in terms of infrastructure development," she told media.

Asian Spirit also flies to Calbayog thrice weekly.

The President instructed Reuben Ciron, newly appointed director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and Mr. Sarmiento, concurrent chairman of the Regional Development Council in Region 8, to look into the request of PAL.

Mr. Bautista said Calbayog was among the pioneer destinations of PAL. "We were the first airline to fly to Calbayog back in 1958. Now, we hope to take Calbayog’s development to a higher level with our new PAL Express service. We are committed to provide affordable air service to the many far-flung island communities of our country."

PAL Express has also launched separate daily services from Manila to San Jose (Occidental Mindoro), Virac (Catanduanes) and Surigao City (Surigao del Norte). It will also launch the Manila-Catarman flight next month in Northern Samar. — Sarwell Q. Meniano

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