DARAGA, Albay – The construction of the Bicol International Airport (BIA) here, touted as the “Most Scenic Gateway” in the country, is set to be completed by December this year.
Albay Second District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said Transportation Secretary Arturo Tugade has given him this assurance recently only. As of 13 January 2021, the BIA’s completion rate was logged at 72.2 percent, Work on it is now moving fast, being one of the priorities of the Duterte administration.
The BIA, which Salceda initiated is situated within his congressional district. It is among the large infrastructure projects under the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build” Program and is envisioned to help make the economy more stable. It is also expected to help stave off the harsh impacts of the Covid-19 crisis.
The aviation industry has been among those hardest hit by the crippling effects of the pandemic and BIA’s completion is set to give this sector a boost, Salceda pointed out.
After years of sluggish implementation, the BIA construction resumed with vigor during the Duterte administration. Its Landside Facilities (Package 2A). Runway Extension and Passenger Terminal Building (Package 2B) commenced and took significant strides in 2017.
Package 2A of the airport which covers the landside facilities, such as the Administration Building, Air Traffic Control Building, Crash Fire Rescue Building, and the Maintenance Building, is now 88.2 percent complete. Its Package 2B, which includes the Passenger Terminal Building and the runway, is now at 49.5 percent.
Previously delayed by various adverse factors, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has assured completion of the P4.8 billion BIA project and has instituted a 24/7 work program for it.
Salceda, who had patiently worked on the project for years, said the BIA is considered a vital key to development and is envisioned to unlock the economic potentials of Southern Luzon.
The BIA is designed to accommodate some two million passengers annually with its higher capacity facilities, and state of the art operational safety. It is expected to transform Albay, Bicol’s regional center, into an economic powerhouse, he added.
Salceda said “the BIA will play a huge role in the country’s economic recovery, especially when international travel resumes.” Once completed, the BIA, which features the iconic Mayon Volcano as its magnificent backdrop, is expected to serve some 2 million airline passengers yearly.
The BIA is situated right at the heart of the Bicol Region, home to the world’s iconic Mayon volcano and the Cagsawa Ruins. Strongly pushed by Salceda during his earlier stint in Congress and later as Albay governor and Bicol Regional Development Council chair for nine years, the project started in 2005 but construction in earnest began only in 2009.
“There is now reasonable optimism the executive decisiveness of the Duterte administration could deliver the BIA, a vital infrastructure to help realize the potentials of Bicol and Southern Luzon, and which is also crucial to country’s development,” the Albay lawmaker stressed.
During recent meetings with Salceda who initiated the project and worked hard to overcome many obstacles to its completion, DOTr Secretary Tugade had firmly committed to make the airport operational, before President Duterte’s term ends.