New Iloilo Airport now ready for test flights
Governor Niel Tupas Sr., Rep. Arthur Defensor,
Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza and
Senator Franklin Drilon share a hearty laugh during
the inspection of the new Iloilo Airport's passenger
Senator Franklin Drilon along with Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza on Friday led the topping ceremony of the almost completed New Iloilo Airport Development Project (NIADP) in Sta. Barbara-Cabatuan area.
The new airport which is of international standard is expected to start commercial operations by April this year.
Other officials like Presidential Adviser for Western Visayas Rafael Coscolluela, Representative Arthur Defensor of the third district, Governor Niel Tupas Sr., and Air Tranportation Office Manager Allan Java also joined the activity.
The group aboard a convoy of vehicles toured the airport's 2.5 kilometer runway and then had a glimpse of the airport's state of the art passenger terminal.
NIADP project manager Eduardo Mangalili said the entire structure is 97 percent completed and will be ready for test flights in the next few days.
Upon seeing the progress of the works, all Drilon could say was: "I feel fulfilled."
Drilon along with then Governor Defensor was very instrumental in the initiation of the project.
For Defensor the NIADP is a "dream come true."
"After all the troubles, problems and challenges we now see the fruit of our hard work," Defensor said of the new airport which was initiated during his term and was implemented during the time of Governor Tupas.
Secretary Mendoza, on the other hand, expressed that the new airport would spur the development of Iloilo and the entire Western Visayas.
"Aside from passenger traffic we also expect a big volume of seafood cargo going direct to countries like Canada and the United States," Mendoza said.
Equipped with modern equipment, the NIADP which will be operational 24 hours a day could accommodate bigger aircrafts like Airbus 330 and Airbus 340 and even Boeing 747.
Mendoza said, initially the airport would accommodate domestic flights but it will be opened to international flights later.
Disposing old airport site
Meanwhile, the Asset Disposition Committee (ADC) of the Department of Finance is now on the process of disposing the existing 54-hectare Iloilo Airport site in Mandurriao district which will eventually be closed when the new airport starts operation.
Drilon said ADC will open the property for public bidding.
Initially, the senator said, the proposal is to develop the old airport site into a second urban center in the city of Iloilo. This means the area will be converted into a commercial complex.
Drilon, however, warned officials of the Air Transportation Office to ensure that the airport site will not be intruded by squatters once it is already vacated.
Need for stable energy
Further, Drilon expressed the province's need of a stable power supply to complement the expected entry of investors in the city and province of Iloilo.
Drilon noted the present problem on energy as the province is dependent on power coming from diesel plants of the National Power Corporation.
Drilon said there is an immediate need to attract investors in the power sector to address this problem.