Panay News. 5/7/2007
By DAVID ISRAEL SINAY
ILOILO City – President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be here on Thursday to attend the political rally of Team Unity. No schedule had been arranged for the inauguration of the new Iloilo airport.
A staff from the Presidential Management Staff here confirmed that Arroyo will mainly endorse the bets of Team Unity – the administration-backed senatorial line-up for the May 14 polls.
As previously scheduled, Arroyo was supposed to inaugurate the new Iloilo airport on April 16. But, with the First Gentleman undergoing a critical heart operation, she cancelled her Iloilo trip.
“The commissioning of the new airport will be in June. The delay is affected by a lot of factors,” said Arturo Valero, acting regional director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) here.
The postponement of the new airport’s inauguration has caused some confusion to frequent air travelers.
The Department of the Transportation and Communications (DOTC) earlier said that after the April 16 airport inauguration, commercial flights will commence landing and taking off at the new airport on April 21 – the same day that the old airport in Mandurriao district will close.
The new Iloilo airport of international standards straddles the municipalities of Sta. Barbara, San Miguel and Cabatuan.
Unlike the existing Mandurriao airport, the new Iloilo airport is situated in a 188-hectare property 19 kilometers from Iloilo City.
“With the airport transfer, certain adjustments will take place. Responsible agencies must ascertain the opening of the new airport to avoid confusion among travelers and for the public to be aware (of the transfer),” Valero said.
The new airport will be the gateway to the Visayas of air travelers in the country and worldwide. It has a runway 2.5 kilometers long and 45 meters wide, a passenger terminal with 12,000 square meters of space, and a 1,281-square meter cargo terminal.
The DOTC said the new airport is the first to have the latest technology belonging to Category F as determined by the International Civil Aviation (ICA) Organization, which means that the airport is accredited as a qualifier for international standards.
The new Iloilo airport complex also has a six-hectare regulating pod that can hold even a year's continuous downpour, hence not flood the airport runway.
Construction of the new Iloilo airport started in 2004 and was completed in March this year.
The airport can accommodate six aircrafts simultaneously parking at a time.
The opening of the P6.187-billion new Iloilo airport will also mean the closure of the existing domestic airport in Mandurriao district.
“Transfer will increase business industry,” Valero said.
Although, Valero stressed that the process of transfer “may cause problems” due to the “lack of support facilities to handle minor aberrations…support facilities will have to be provided.”
He said transportation and business facilities must be provided now that the airport is not yet operational. In going to the airport site, one must travel some 2.8 kilometers from the entrance along the national highway.
In her visit here in January 2006, President Arroyo said she was confident that the closure and privatization of the Mandurriao facility would further boost local tourism and economic activities.
Alongside with its closure, the Department of Finance is selling the existing 54-hectare Mandurriao airport property. Five land developers have expressed interest to acquire the area – SM Prime Holdings, Ayala Land, Robinsons Land, Megaworld and Filinvest.
Mayor Jerry Treñas said he would like the winning bidder to develop the old airport into a theme park, build in there a convention center, establish a hospital or set up an information technology (IT) park for business process outsourcing.
Treñas envisions the theme park to be similar to Enchanted Kingdom and Star City as this would draw more tourists to Iloilo.
Treñas said he would also want investors to put up a 5,000-seater convention center in line with his dream of making the city into the country's "convention center."
Also, with the fast growing industry on business process outsourcing, Treñas said putting up an IT park would encourage call centers to invest in this city. He said several call center companies conveyed interest to invest here but the lack of facilities holds them back from doing so.Panay News. 5/7/2007