BINALONAN -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo launched Friday the “Jeepney in the Sky,” which is aimed to connect far-flung areas in Northern Luzon.

Binalonan Vice Mayor Ramon Guico III said the goal is to promote trade, tourism, and commerce between town and different municipalities that they have an agreement with.

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Arroyo opened the “Aeronautical Highway of Northern Luzon,” which includes the airstrip here. The program held at the hangar of the Binalonan Airfield here.

Present, among others, were Governor Amado Espino Jr., Cabinet Officer for Regional Development (Cord)-Ilocos Region and Presidential Management Staff Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Environment Secretary Horacio Ramos, and other Cabinet officials, as well as Mayor Ramon Guico Jr.

Arroyo said this aeronautical highway will play an important role in connecting far-flung places that are less served or un-served by air transport, particularly in bringing their products to Metro Manila and other places.

“As I said before, we need infrastructure and no-frill airports to bring agricultural products of North Luzon to other places. With the good roads of Pangasinan and with the SCTEX, it will be brought to other areas in Luzon,” she said.

“Thank you to the mayors and to the private sector for investing in this very important airport because by bringing the products from distant towns nearer to the markets, we will be able to spread development, and not too much concentration in Metro Manila,” she added.

“We will be able to develop the North Luzon-Agro-Business Quadrangle into the food basket of Luzon,” the President said.

The private flying school and airstrip here is owned by the WCC Aviation Company Guico family.

President and Chief Executive Officer is the vice mayor who himself is a pilot.

Arroyo inaugurated the airstrip in 2008. She said then that the airport could become an agricultural airport and will be a big help for the North Agro-Business Quadrangle.

Guico said aside from the light airplanes being used in the flying school, the company currently maintains two 19-seater air transportation.

“The 16-hour land and sea travel from one point to another (in Northern Luzon) is cut to a mere 18 minutes of flying time,” he explained.

The company has this program Sky Pasada.

He said it is the dedication of the Sky Pasada to bring to this town and sister municipalities affordable, safe, and fast air transportation.

“Thus, through the initiative of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, we have recognized these underserved destinations and underserved airports which we already have and linking them together. Instead of the hub and scoop concept, we made a Pasada concept dahil kokonti lang ang mga tao don. It is like Jeepney in the Sky,” Guico said.

Mayor Guico and the mayors of Divilacan, Palanan, and Maconacon towns of Isabela and the mayor of Buyugan, Batanes presented to the president the Memorandum of Understanding they entered into relative to the operation of the Aeronautical Highway of Northern Luzon.

Back-to-back with this event is the launching and mini exhibit of the Carlos S. Bulosan book.