Daraga, Albay ––The Philippines iconic and picturesque Bicol International Airport, in the municipality of Daraga, Albay south of Manila, was finally inaugurated by President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday.

The President said the new airport brings pride and joy to provide added transportation to those who will travel to and from the Bicol region, likewise expressing appreciation for local officials for making it come true after 11 years of delay.

“It is my pleasure to join you today the completion of this world place Bicol International Airport brings pride and joy to provide transportation to those who will travel to and from the Bicol region,” the President said.

“This airport is the most scenic in the country that would allow better connectivity. On this note, I urged the management and staff to provide safety standard modern airport to ensure the passengers get the best service they deserve,” he said.

He said that the Bicol International Airport will increase mobility, better connectivity, create more jobs, and provide scenic travels to passengers.

He also called on authorities to ensure best quality service fully deserved by passengers, noting that the BIA will serve the needs of about two million passengers annually.

The BIA inaugural commercial flights will commence tomorrow, October 8, 2021 after 11 years of delay and three groundbreaking ceremonies. The airport has gained solid ground through President Duterte Administration’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade turned over to the President the key during the inauguration of BIA, 11 years after the construction under the three administrations.

Tugade said that the construction of BIA was challenging as it went through a series of typhoons and the New People’s Army perpetuated arson incidents.

“The construction of BIA was a “personal challenge” to me as some had doubted that the airport would not be finished under the Duterte administration. Construction works were delayed for 11 years. It went through three groundbreaking ceremonies prior to this administration. While we were building it, it also suffered arson incidents [perpetrated by rebels],” Tugade said.

The BIA sits on a 148-hectare area with a 2,500-meter runway strip, equipped with night landing capability and take-off facilities, air traffic control tower, passenger and cargo terminal, car park, fire station, and other facilities.

The construction of the international airport created 755 jobs with 1,100 more indirect jobs expected to become available once commercial operations start, the DOTr official said.

Tugade said the BIA would be ready for international flights this year but subject to International Civil Aviation Organization review. Once fully operational, BIA is expected to accommodate a total of 2 million passengers a year, he said.

The BIA is the new air transportation hub known as the country’s “most scenic gateway” with a ten-fold increase in capacity from the previous Legazpi Domestic Airport terminal to better serve the entire Bicol Region.

The project materialized through the continued efforts of the Department of Transportation and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to provide not just an airport but a world class travel experience.

Demonstrating the Department of Transportation’s commitment to the Duterte Administration’s “Build Build Build” Program and to continuously provide a safer, more modern, and secure airport that is globally connected for the Filipinos and the traveling public.

The opening of BIA in Bicol marks a milestone of the region’s development in the middle of the global pandemic.

The inauguration of international airport was attended by Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda (2nd District) of Albay, Gov. Al Francis Bichara, Mayor Victor Perete of Daraga while RDC chairman and Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal was not able to attend the event after the result of RT-PCR test was not release before the arrival of the President.

Duterte witnessed the demonstration of the features of the new contactless, self-service check-in kiosk led by Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General Captain Jim Sydiongco.

The said kiosk in the newly built airport will make air travel experience for the passengers more convenient and comfortable once it commences commercial operations on 8 October 2021.

Rep. Joey Salceda said that Bicol International Airport can make the municipality of Daraga into a city, making Albay with four cities once the cityhood bid is approved.

Salceda is pushing for the cityhood of Daraga town with the operation of BIA. The lawmaker has been pushing for the completion of the facility since the time of President Gloria Arroyo as the flagship project in Bicol.

“With about P150 million annual income and about 2,000 direct and indirect jobs to be generated, the Bicol International Airport can make the municipality of Daraga into a city,” Salceda said.

The current 2.2 million passenger capacity is also expected to be increased to five million in the next five years, he said.

“The BIA is the most instagrammable airport in the entire country. Nothing beats the Bicol region,” Salceda said during the inauguration of the BIA in Albay led by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Salceda said the BIA will be operated and comanaged by Aboitiz Infracapital and DAA Inc. (the managers of Dublin Airport of Ireland) as a package along with the Panglao (Bohol) and Laguindingan (Misamis Oriental) airports.

He said the private partnership would provide Bicol access to foreign markets, foreign routes and foreign airport management expertise.

While the old 74- hectare Legazpi Domestic Airport terminal according to Salceda, would be transformed into a new Legazpi central business district wherein the development plan is on the drawing board.

Non-stop construction works on the international airport came alongside the installation of critical energy infrastructure as the Albay Power and Energy Corp. (APEC) is now doing the final modification in time for BIA’s official operations.

The APEC’s Technical Services Team unload Feeder 4 of the Washington Substation last Oct. 9, while Tabon-tabon Daraga to Villa Hermosa will be transferred to Feeder 3 in the same substation.

 A single-phase recloser will be installed at Penafrancia Daraga to provide quick resolution if unexpected power disruption occurs. The Daraga Substation, earmarked for completion in 2022, will be located at Penafrancia Daraga Albay to cater to a 25 MVA transformer load capacity.

This high-capacity energy infrastructure will vastly spur economic growth in Daraga Albay, particularly its far-flung areas, the APEC management statement said.

Cynthia Tumanut, CAAP Legazpi City manager, said in a recent forum that the agency had assured that BIA would be opened to domestic night flights on Nov. 7.

The construction of the international airport here has been delayed for more than two decades under the incumbency of former Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the late Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino. The construction of international airport in Bicol realized under Duterte administration as his vital infrastructure project in Bicol. (By: Raneza Sabina Barcebal)

Leave a Reply