THE City Government of Catbalogan is optimistic of opening its airport for commercial operations after its appeal for improvement received attention from the National Government.
Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan said on Thursday afternoon that Undersecretary Ferdinand Cui, acting head of the Presidential Management Staff, has endorsed the project to Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade.
Cui, a native of Catbalogan City, recently met with Uy-Tan to discuss about the proposed airport development plans.
Officials from the City Investment and Promotions Office had initial talks with an airline company for possible opening of Cebu-Catbalogan route.
Uy-Tan has already scheduled a meeting with residents of Buri Island, who will be affected with the proposed airport expansion project.
“The City Government is planning to meet DOTr Secretary Tugade to ask for a higher budget for the airport improvement project,” she added.
Department of Tourism Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes said there was public clamor to open the airport for commercial operations.
Catbalogan City, the capital of Samar is two-hour drive from Tacloban, the regional capital. The city is nearly two hours away from the nearest airport in Calbayog City.
“Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) has many potential for aviation sector and that include Catbalogan City. There was a survey made and the result is there really a need for air connectivity from Catbalogan to either Cebu or Manila and we are trying to work on this,” said Tiopes.
The government built the airport in Buri Island, Catbalogan in 1995 for P57 million but the facility was never used commercially.
In 2012, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines allocated P94 million budget for a five-year development of Catbalogan Airport. Activities include construction of parking area, perimeter fence, apron, runway and taxiway; runway extension; a fire station building; and additional security fence. (PNA)