GENERAL SANTOS CITY(MindaNews/16 April) — The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has allocated an additional P42.2 million for the continuing expansion and development of the city airport.
Engr. Raul Glorioso, acting department manager of CAAP here, said such appropriation was set aside for the establishment of the airport complex’s runway end safety area (RESA) and the expansion of its main terminal building.
He said the RESA, which is intended to reduce the risk of damage to airplanes in the event of an undershot, overshot or excursion from the runway, was estimated to cost P17.28 million.
The remaining P25 million was allocated for the airport terminal building’s continuing expansion and rehabilitation, he said.
Glorioso said they are also set to conduct the bidding for the upgrading of the airport’s fire-fighting facilities, which their office had earlier set as a priority.
He said the other planned developments are the placement of asphalt overlay at the runway and the installation of additional baggage carousel at the airport’s arrival area, which will be funded by CAAP’s corporate funds.
The city airport, which is classified by CAAP as an alternate international airport, mainly serves the “greater area” of Region 12 that covers this city and nearby provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani.
Leading domestic budget carrier Cebu Pacific presently maintains three regular passenger and cargo flights daily from this city to Manila, another daily flight to Cebu and three flights every week to Iloilo.
Cebu Pacific recently announced the opening of another flight to this city from nearby Davao City.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) has two regular flights from this city to Manila every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and one flight for the other days.
PAL affiliate PAL Express serves daily regular flights to Cebu and three flights every week to Iloilo.
In its Regional Development Plan for 2011-2016, the Regional Development Council of Region 12 stressed the need for the immediate upgrading and improvement of the city airport.
“Despite being categorized as an international airport, the General Santos Airport still lacks facilities to make it at par with international standards,” it said.
The council specifically cited that that passengers presently have to deal with a lot of inconvenience in boarding and disembarking the airplane and walk some length under the heat of the sun.
It said that even the trolleys which are supposed to be a necessity for moving luggage are used by passengers for a fee.
“The airport needs a jet bridge, an enclosed, movable connector which extends from the airport terminal gate to the airplane that will allow passengers to board and disembark without having to go outside,” the RDC-12 said.
Trolleys and other airport facilities should be made available for free considering that passengers already pay terminal fees,” the council said. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)