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TWO commercial airline plans to launch international flights from the new Iloilo airport, according to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). 

DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza announced the plan during the groundbreaking of the P124-million secondary access road to the new airport in Cabatuan-Sta. Barbara area. The groundbreaking of the access road was held at Brgy. Tabucan, Cabatuan last week. 

“The Iloilo Airport is now complete. Darating na ang international flights,” Mr. Mendoza said. 

Mr. Mendoza said Cebu Pacific airlines is planning to launch its Iloilo-Hongkong flights while Korean Airlines which will mount South Korea-Iloilo flights.       

Mr. Mendoza said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the establishment of an international desk which will be administered by the Customs Immigration and Quarantine. 

He said the influx of direct international flights to Iloilo will bring in more investors to the area. 

“This could be achieved because of the potentials of the area near the airport to become and industrial zone which will eventually becoming an economic zone,” Mr. Mendoza said.

The Regional Development Council (RDC) in Western Visayas had lobbied for international flights to the Iloilo Airport. 

Two Western Visayas airports already accommodate international flights – the Godofredo P. Ramos Airport in Caticlan, Malay, Aklan and the Kalibo International Airport in Kalibo, Aklan.

The RDC’s Regional Project Monitoring Committee of RDC-Western Visayas said the Iloilo airport can generate P280,000 from terminal fee collections daily from international flights.

The airport currently serves 16 outgoing domestic flights daily, with an average volume of 90 passengers per flight.

Iloilo airport began operating June 14, 2007 in lieu of the old Mandurriao airport in Iloilo City which had been in service for over 70 years. 

The new airport is officially designated as a Class 1 principal (major domestic) airport by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines. 

The new Iloilo Airport can accommodate aircraft as large as the Airbus A330 because of its longer runway.

The airport is located along Tomas Confesor Highway, a major highway traversing Panay Island.

The new secondary access road project will serve as an alternative route to the new airport for passengers from northern and central Iloilo and the provinces of Antique, Capiz and Aklan. 

The proposed road is 3.2 kilometers long from the national highway. It will be a two-lane with 5.5 meter width asphalt concrete pavement. 

The project covers an area of 64,944 square meter and will traverse five barangays of Cabatuan: Tabucan, Tiring, Talanghauan, Ga-ub, and Duyan-duyan. 

The new road network is expected to help reduce traffic at the main access road during peak hours. It will save at least 15 minutes travel time for passengers from northern Iloilo.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AN airline suspended its flights to Caticlan in Malay, Aklan after aviation authorities ordered new operating procedures in the Godofredo Ramos Airport in the said town.

In a statement, Cebu Pacific airline said it will suspend its Manila-Caticlan flights starting July 9 until further notice after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) imposed the “one-way landing, one-way take-off” policy.

“We have therefore decided to divert all Caticlan flights to Kalibo instead and from there bus all our Boracay-bound passengers at no extra cost,” said CEB President and CEO Lance Gokongwei.

The new CAAP policy started June 26, a day after a Zest Air plane carrying 55 passengers and crew overshot the Caticlan airport.

The Caticlan airport, which is the gateway to Boracay Island, has Runways 06-24. Before the CAAP order, pilots could use either runways for take off or landing.

The CAAP discouraged using runway 24 for landing because of a 39-meter hill near the runway.

The CAAP ordered that runway 06 will be used for take off only while runway 24, which is 950 meters long, will be used for landing only.

In its investigation, CAAP found the Zest Air plane attempted to land on runway 24 but touched down past the landing area marked by white grid lines while trying to avoid the hill.

The plane’s momentum carried it beyond the runway’s end and settled on a grassy area of the field.

The one-way landing, one-way take-off policy will take effect while the Caticlan airport is being rehabilitated. This policy on the airport has been published in the Aeronautical Information Publication since last year.

CEB has been operating direct flights to Caticlan since February 29, 2008 and has since then carried over 340,000 passengers.

CEB mounted as many as 15 round-trip flights daily to Caticlan until June 25.  More than 60,000 booked passengers will be affected by the cancellation.

Gokongwei said “We continue to work closely with our industry partner, the CAAP, to find a speedy resolution, to these airport issues, to allow Cebu Pacific to re-instate flights to Caticlan.

“Boracay continues to be one of the country’s most important tourism destinations.   CEB’s low fare service has been integral to the growth and development of the island’s tourism industry and has increased its accessibility to both local and foreign tourists.” 

Affected passengers may call the call center (02) 702-0888 / (032) 230-8888 or visit the website http://www.cebupacificair.com for more details and updates on their flights.

Also, the CAAP, upon recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao), shortened the length of the two runways.

Runway 06 was reduced from 950 meters to 825 while runway 24 was reduced to 875 meters.

The restriction was adopted following an inspection by foreign consultants hired by the CAAP to assess the airport.

The consultants said the runways’ design posed a real hazard to aircraft operations.

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