LEGAZPI CITY – It’s all system go for the formal opening of the Bicol International Airport (BIA) in Daraga, Albay on Thursday.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to lead the inauguration of the first international airport facility south of Manila.
The BIA, completed after almost 12 years at the cost of PHP4 billion, is in Barangay Alobo. It will receive commercial flights starting Wednesday (October 6), and domestic daytime flights starting Thursday (October 7).
Cynthia Tumanut, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) manager for Legazpi, in a recent media forum said the airport facility would be open to domestic night flights on November 7.
Last Sunday, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade led the final inspection of BIA, which is touted as the country’s “Most Scenic Gateway” with the iconic Mount Mayon volcano as its backdrop.
Tugade said the operationalization of the BIA was a “personal challenge” to him, as some skeptics had questioned its completion.
With the DOTr chief during the inspection were Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, and Daraga Mayor Victor Pirete.
After checking on the overall physical accomplishment of the BIA, Tugade said: “We are happy to announce that the BIA is now nearing completion and will be ready to serve domestic air passengers by Thursday”.
He also announced that the facility would be ready for international flights this year subject to airlines’ submission for International Civil Aviation review.
Tugade said once fully operational, the BIA, which will replace the Legazpi Domestic Airport, is expected to accommodate a total of two million passengers per year.
Construction of the airport created 755 jobs with 1,100 more indirect jobs expected to become available once the airport begins commercial operations.
Meanwhile, Salceda said the development plan for the Legazpi Domestic Airport terminal is on the drawing board with the aim to transform it into the new Legazpi Central Business District. (PNA)