Governor sees flaws in Bicol airport plan

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LEGAZPI CITY, Albay: Gov. Al Francis Bichara of Albay has urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to revise a plan for the Bicol International Airport that has been found to be technically flawed, based on a poor feasibility study and below international standards.

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The international airport being constructed in Alobo, Daraga town, will cost P4.8 billion.

“We are calling on the DOTr to revise the plan for the Bicol International Airport because there is no provision for a taxiway and the runway is too short, thus there is no tube for passengers. The feasibility study was poorly done under the previous DOTC Secretary [Manuel Roxas 2nd]. We should look beyond 30 years,” Bichara said, referring to the Department of Transportation and Communications, now DOTr.

The Bicol International Airport was first proposed to the Regional Development Council during Bichara’s term in the late 1990s to early 2000 and was pursued by former governor and now Rep. Joey Sarte (2nd District) of Albay.

Its construction started under former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The airport site occupies at least 148 hectares with a 2,100-meter runway, control tower, passenger and cargo terminals, car park, fire station and other modern facilities.

International standards call for an airport to accommodate from six to 12 flights a day but, according to Bichara, the existing plan could not hold several flight arrivals and departures owing to a smaller ramp and lack of a taxiway.

The government allocated P2.2 billion for the construction of a runway, an apron and a taxiway. The funds were released in three tranches: P300 million in 2009, P300 million in 2010 for concrete road and site development and P970 million in 2012 for the 2.1-kilometer runway.

Bichara said the airport could have been completed this year.

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