TACLOBAN CITY -- The Provincial Government is spending PHP1.32 billion for the development of seven airports in Eastern Visayas this year, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) confirmed on Wednesday.

CAAP Eastern Visayas Area Manager Danilo Abareta said they are committed to upgrade airports with existing commercial flights to ensure safety and compliance to aviation standards.

“These projects are part of the long-term plan of the Department of Transportation (DOT) to upgrade all airports by 2022. We are doing our best to make these airports operational even at night,” Abareta told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The budget for airport development this year is twice the PHP684 million allocation in 2017, which only covered the development of four airports in the region.

Bulk of the budget for 2018 is for the site development and construction of new terminal building for Tacloban Airport with an allocation of PHP716.12 million.

With 34 inbound and outbound daily flights, the Tacloban airport is the country’s seventh busiest airport with 1.2 million passengers last year.

The new facility, which would be at par with global standards, will have a floor area of 12,400 square meters or 12 times bigger than the existing terminal.

In Samar province, the Calbayog Airport got a budget of PHP245 million for the runway strip and shoulder grade correction; drainage canal system; runway, apron, and taxiway markings; and provision of runway end safety area at both ends of the runway.

Calbayog, one of the biggest cities in the country in terms of land area, has regular flights to Clark by Philippine Airlines and to Cebu by Cebu Pacific.

With a budget of P128 million, the Ormoc City airport’s 1,020-meter runway will have a new asphalt overlay pavement and reflectorized markings. The outlay will also cover the acquisition of lot to widen its strip.

Two weeks ago, Air Juan launched its Ormoc-Cebu flight, months after Cebu Pacific stopped flying the same route.

In Southern Leyte province, DOTr sets aside P122 million to correct the runway of Maasin Airport, build runway slope protection, extend the runway to 1,500 meters, and construction of 60-meter strip end of runway.

Last year, Air Juan launched its Cebu-Maasin-Tagbilaran-Cebu flight. The domestic airline is the first to serve the route.

The P72.26 million for Borongan Airport in Eastern Samar will fund the extension of runway from 1,200 meters to 1,350 meters. The budget will also construct strips at both ends of the runway.

Presently, the Eastern Samar airport has no commercial flights. Earlier, Aviation Cadet Development Inc. – Multi-Purpose Cooperative announced that their turboprop-powered “Fokker 50” aircraft will fly from Cebu to Borongan starting April.

The Borongan Airport never had commercial operations since 2008 after South East Asian Airlines stopped its Manila-Borongan flights.

Among the seven airports, Biliran Airport got the lowest budget this year of P14.7 million for the construction of 4,500-meter perimeter fence. Currently, Air Juan has three times weekly flights to Naval, Biliran from Cebu. (PNA)