There’s no stopping the Godofredo P.Ramos Airport from being an International Airport in the near future.
Despite the reservations aired by provincial officials and other stakeholders, said airport otherwise known as the Boracay Airport, will definitely serve international flights upon the completion of its expansion and upgrading projects leaving the future of the Kalibo International Airport in uncertain terms.
“There’s no turning back for the Boracay Airport for its bid on becoming an international airport in the near future. Its expansion and upgrading under a Public Private Partnership project is clearly stipulated in the Concessionaire Agreement between CAAP and the San Miguel Corp.,” Engr. Raul Glorioso, department manager of the Aerodome Development and Management Service of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) told the Western Visayas Informer in a recent interview.
The Caticlan Airport Development Project was endorsed by the Regional Development Council and approved by the NEDA Board in 2008. Under its approved Concessionaire Agreement, the Caticlan International Airport and Development Corporation (CIADC) will rehabilitate the existing airport at an estimated cost of P2.51 billion under an unsolicited Contract-Add-Operate-and-Transfer (CAOT) arrangement (a BOT variant) in a span of six years. However in April 2010, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) acquired the majority interest/stake of CIADC. SMC through its subsidiary Trans Aire Development Holding Corporation now holds the 25-year contract to rehabilitate and operate the airport.
The development involves the lengthening of its runway from 900 meters to 2.1 kilometers in order to accommodate Airbus 320 jetliners and other aircraft that will bring in international tourists.
A closer look on the Revised Master Development Plan of the Airport during its inauguration last 2011reveals that the airport is the first in the country to have both ends of the runway extending towards the sea and a road crossing underneath the runway at both ends. It is also the first of its type to have a jetty port, hotel, convention center, and commercial center all located within its airport complex. SMC’s total investment to cover all these developments will be $300 million.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said the airport, called Godofredo P. Ramos Airport, will be completed in 2016.
“Once realized, this will definitely accommodate bigger planes with a maximum of 5 hours flight from the country of origin like Japan and Korea and this will shorten travel time for tourists who normally take a two hour land travel from Kalibo International Airport to Caticlan, the jumpoff point to the famed Boracay Island”, Engr. Glorioso added.
Provincial leaders led by Aklan Lone District Rep. Florencio Miraflores and Kasangga Partylist Rep. Ted Haresco recently expressed apprehension that the so-called upgrading of the airport located in Brgys. Caticlan of Malay and Union of Nabas into an international airport will certainly generate negative repercussions as far as the operations of the Kalibo International Airport is concerned.
With good reason. Provincial leaders and other stakeholders such as the transport sector that services foreign tourists expressed concerns that their operations and revenues generated from the KIA’s operations will be adversely affected once the Boracay Airport becomes international airport.
KIA is currently serving international flights daily from countries such as Korea, Taiwan, Hongkong and Mainland China.
Meanwhile, the completion of Boracay Gateway, Alphaland Corp.’s high-end development at the tip of Panay Island, will coincide with the completion of the Boracay Airport.
Speaking on the sidelines of Alphaland's stockholders meeting on April 2, the property firm’s president, Mario Oreta, said while construction has started on their Boracay Gateway project, they are in no rush to complete it as they are building it in parallel with the Boracay Airport.
“We started the development but it needs to be timed together with this International Airport. It doesn’t make sense for us to finish it without the airport,” said Oreta.
There have, however, been ecological concerns as part of the expansion involves chopping off a section of a 45-meter hill on the eastern side that blocks one end of the current airstrip resulting in possible erosion of land that would have otherwise been sheltered from the wind with the presence of the hill.
Alphaland Boracay Gateway is a 500-hectare master planned eco-resort community that will feature sports, recreation, residential and retail/commercial areas and 1.7 kilometers of white sand beaches.
As of January, Alphaland has finished 90% of grading of 10 kilometers of roadways in Spine Road, Beach Road and Village Roads. It has also completed 90% of grading of the Polo Field.
Text and photos by RECTO I. VIDAL
Source: Boracay Informer