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Gov't allots P963M for Bicol airport

By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) Updated September 22, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration is spending close to P1 billion to put up a new international airport in Bicol in order to solve the many limitations of the existing airport in the city of Legazpi.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is set to bid out a contract for the development of the new Bicol International Airport for a total cost of P963.2 million.

The initial procurement for the Bicol International Airport includes only the airside development covering the continuation of runway strip construction, concrete paving of runway, construction of taxiway, rigid pavement, and other peripheral works.

On the other hand, a separate bidding would be held for the construction of the passenger terminal building and other landside components.

The project would provide better air transport services in the Bicol region as a total of 198 flights were cancelled and 104 flights were delayed last year due to the airport’s microclimate.

The microclimate is due mostly to the mountainous area surrounding Legazpi airport, which produces thick fog that often obscures the runway.

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.

The existence of houses and hills around the airport also makes it costly to widen the runway strip.

“The need to develop a new international airport in Bicol is imperative in order to solve the many limitations of the Legazpi Airport,” the DOTC said.

Besides addressing the problems, the development of a new Bicol International Airport would also support the increasing trade and tourism in the region.

Bicol posted the fastest gross regional domestic product at 8.2 percent among 16 regions in the Philippines in 2009.

The region with popular destinations like Mt. Mayon and Donsol posted a 17- percent increase in the number of visitors last year.

Likewise, the government has earmarked another P154.5 million for the development of the Central Mindanao Airport in M’lang, Cotabato that would serve as a feeder airport to the air terminals in the coasts of Mindanao: the Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and the General Santos airports.

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.

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