Bicol Int’l Airport to open Dec 2021

By Mar S. Arguelles


The long wait is over, as the much vaunted Bicol International Airport (BIA) in Daraga, Albay, the flagship project of three Presidents is now a reality.


The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in Bicol said Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade, in a recent project site visit,has announced that the airport will start operation by December.


Agnes Espinas-Tolentino, NEDA Bicol regional director, said that civil works at the BIA is 83 percent complete as of June this year.


Tolentino, in a recent Regional Development Council (RDC) meeting quoting a Department of Transportation (DOTR) report, said the project posted an overall physical accomplishment of 88.7 percent as of June this year.


The BIA project involves two packages: Package 2A is the construction of the landside facilities (site development and other buildings) is a work in progress with a 96 percent completion rate, while Package 2B is the construction of the Passengers Terminal Building, runway extension, and other site developments are 85 percent completed as of July 1.


For the two project packages, government has already spent P2.3 billion in three tranches: P740.88 million in 2015; a total of P1.6 billion in 2016 and 2017, all funded under Pres. Duterte’s Build, Build, Build program.


Prior to that, from 2009 until 2015, the government already poured in P1.6 billion for the BIA.

NEW AIRPORT The Bicol International Airport is expected to operate in December this year according to the Department of Transportation. (Photo by Department of Transportation)


These funds were released in three tranches: P300 million in 2009 and another P300 million in 2010 for concrete road construction and site development.


The P970 million funding released in 2012 was intended for the construction of a 2.1-kilometer runway in accordance to international standards.


In total, during its conceptualization phase to construction phase, the government for the period 2009 to 2021 has spent nearly P4 billion for the BIA project.


It took the project 12 years to complete under three Presidents – Arroyo, Aquino, and Duterte.


The BIA lies in a 148-hectare area with 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 modern facilities.


Inauguration of the BIA and domestic operation is set in September 2021, while the international operation is still being worked out.


Meanwhile, the DOTR site inspection has raised concern over the future expansion of the 2,500 meters runway, where it was observed that it cannot be fully maximized due to the obstruction on one end by the Kimantong Hill, and on the other end by the transmission towers of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.


In consideration of the future development of the airport, and to ensure that the airport will be able to keep up with the potential increase in traffic in the future, it is deemed important to address the runway limitations at this point in time, the DoTR said.


While there are several airports north of Manila like the Clark International Airport and the Laoag International Airport, there is none in the southern part of Manila.


The BIA would be a viable market and serve as an alternate gateway to Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao, especially in times of extreme weather disturbances in these areas.