Bicol’s 1st int’l airport to operate October 7

By Cet Dematera


The Bicol International Airport (BIA) in Daraga, Albay will open its domestic daytime flights on Thursday, Oct. 7, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said.


Cynthia Tumanut, CAAP Area Center 5 manager, said that a month after the domestic daytime flight operations, the domestic night time flights would start on Nov. 7.


“And international flights at BIA will start in 2022,” she said.


Erwin Montas, manager of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) at the Legazpi City airport, said that PAL would have a ceremonial landing of its Q400 airbus at the BIA on Oct. 7.


“But this ceremonial landing of our airbus in BIA would not yet carry passengers but only flight stewardess and other PAL personnel,” Montas said.


He said that PAL’s operations at the Legazpi City airport would already be transferred to BIA once it opens on Oct.7.


Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade visited BIA for final inspection on Oct. 3 where he also met Albay Second District Rep. Joey Salceda and Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, who is also the chairman of the Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC).


Salceda said that BIA is the only international airport south of Manila in Luzon.


“We have already four international airports in the North---Subic, Clark, Laoag and Bulacan. BIA is first in South Luzon,” Salceda told Bicol Mail.


He said that BIA has a catchment area of 5.4-million (people) in Bicol and 4.5-million in Region VIII (Visayas).


“This number is larger than 105 countries combined,” Salceda said, adding that “BIA will the 90th largest airport market in the world, comparable with Israel, United Arab Emirates, and Hungary,” Salceda said.


He said that this airport is so far the only international airport in the Pacific Rim.


“This will provide Bicol access to foreign markets, foreign routes, ad foreign airport management expertise,” Salceda said.


BIA’s terminal passenger capacity is initially at 2.2-million, with a planned expansion of up to 4 million, he added.


Salceda said that BIA would be operated and co-managed by the Aboitiz Infracapital and DAA Inc. (managers of Dublin Airport in Ireland).


Rosal said that the Legazpi City airport with its 74-hectare area would be converted into another commercial business district in Legazpi.


“We already put in place what to do with the Legazpi City airport once it is closed,” Rosal told Bicol Mail.


Both the existing Legazpi City airport and BIA are with the background of the majestic Mayon Volcano in Albay.