DUMAGUETE CITY -- The business sector in Negros Oriental is optimistic that the proposed construction of a multi-million peso new airport in the municipality of Bacong will bring in more socio-economic and other opportunities, especially in tourism, to this Central Visayas province.
Edward Du, Dumaguete-based businessman and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) governor for Central Visayas, made the pronouncement Friday following reports that the government has already approved millions of pesos in funds for the lot acquisition of the proposed airport.
While this project started way back in 2012-2013, with the initial negotiations, during the administration of former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, “we’re waiting for the final design and the final feasibility study, we’re waiting for that from the DOTr (Department of Transportation) and the CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines),” Du said.
“What I know is that the project has already been approved and we’re waiting for the final downloading of the money around P300 million to P500 million for the acquisition of the land for the airport,” he added.
The proposed airport requires at least 250 hectares with the site being eyed in nearby Bacong town.
Du said that “for the first time in history, the money will be downloaded to the LGU (local government unit) because DOTr cannot negotiate with the owners.”
Although it might take years before the project is completed, it is something to look forward to because of the current state of the Dumaguete-Sibulan airport, he said.
“Our existing airport is hopeless and the business sector is already affected. The problem with a short runway is that the airlines cannot maximize the full loading of cargo,” he said.
The runway at the Dumaguete-Sibulan airport is short and cannot accommodate larger aircraft, he said.
And there is no way that the runway can be further extended, he added.
Because of this, the airfare from Dumaguete to Manila and vice-versa is more expensive than flights in nearby Cebu because airlines have increased the rates to make up for the lesser cargo load capacity, Du said.
“With the funding of the proposed airport in Bacong, we are optimistic it will not take that long to complete it, unlike Panglao,” said Du, referring to the airport in Panglao, Bohol which took eight years to build and has not yet been completed due to “funding problems”.
“So we’re hoping it will not go the way of Panglao. We’re hoping that it will be shorter (in construction) than Panglao airport,” Du said. (PNA)