TO prove the construction of the Bicol International Airport (BIA) is on track, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade landed at the gateway's runway Friday morning whether it was finished or not.

He inspected the airport on May 13, 2021.

Tugade said his landing at the airport will serve as a challenge and an encouragement for the gateway's builders to keep up the pace.

"I will land at Bicol International Airport [whether it is] finished or unfinished in July," Tugade said during his inspection of the airport last May.

After landing, he will inspect the airport's facilities.

Tugade assured the BIA, dubbed as the "country's most scenic gateway" with the iconic Mayon Volcano for its backdrop, will be operational by or before the end of this year.

Once completed, the gateway is expected to boost air traffic in the region and accommodate a total of 2 million passengers annually.

The construction of the P4.798-billion BIA in Barangay Alobo, Daraga in Albay has been certified a priority by the Duterte administration under the Build, Build, Build program.

The international airport started pre-construction works in 2008.

The airport project gained traction when Tugade directed the Department of Transportation's (DoTr) air sector to fast-track the airport's construction.

Under his direction, the project's construction was also able to employ 755 workers despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with 1,100 more indirect jobs awaiting locals once the airport becomes operational.

Meanwhile, the two contractors of the airport project have committed to complete all civil works under their respective contracts by Aug. 30, 2021.

As of July 28, 2021, the BIA's construction accomplishment rate is at 89 percent.

This constitutes Package 2A and Package 2B of the project.

Package 2A is already 96 percent accomplished and is expected to be fully completed by Aug. 30, 2021, subject to further necessary works after inspection by the DoTr and by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

Included under Package 2A are the construction of the airport's air traffic control tower, administration building, crash fire rescue building and cargo terminal building, among others.

Package 2B, meanwhile, is at 86 percent completion and is expected to be fully completed by the end of August 2021, subject to further necessary works after inspections by the DoTr and CAAP.

Included under Package 2B are the construction of the BIA's passenger terminal building, which is now 90.5 percent complete and is expected to be finished by Aug. 31, 2021.

Also included under Package 2B is the extension of the airport's runway, which is now 75 percent finished and is also expected to be completed by Aug. 31, 2021.

The BIA is also expected to be technically operational for day operations by Oct. 7, 2021, and to be night-rated by Nov. 4, 2021.