The Caticlan airport reopens in September for bigger aircrafts, following the order of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) to commence initial phase of runway rehabilitation, which involves contouring of the bordering hill.
The DOTC issued the order to the Caticlan International Airport Development Corp. (CIADC), a private consortium which was granted the 25-year airport upgrade project.
Recent flight incidents in Caticlan prompted the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to prohibit larger aircrafts of Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Zest Airways from using Boracay’s closest gateway. At present, the airport is limited to one way landing or take-off for smaller planes.
“With the wind factor and the hill obstructing the airstrip, pilots perform an abrupt maneuver to a steep degree of ascent for larger planes. Passenger safety is our priority in rehabilitating the runway,” revealed Secretary Ace Durano, representing the Department of Tourism (DOT), one of the board members of CAAP.
“The CAAP, concerned government agencies and private sector are consolidating all efforts to complete the runway upgrade. We have been assured that it will be fully operational in September, the start of Boracay’s peak season,” added the tourism chief.
Durano further said that though arrivals in Boracay were largely unaffected by the new stipulation, with flights diverted to Kalibo, and Caticlan airport left open to smaller planes of Southeast Asian Airways (Seair), the runway reopening is vital to the long-term infrastructure development of the airport.
Concerns of rerouted airline companies have also mounted, according to DOT Undersecretary Eduardo Jarque, Jr., “Redirected flights to Kalibo involve land transfer costs which are shouldered by the airlines. Likewise, tourists looking to spend a longer time in Boracay end up consuming two hours more on their travel by bus.”
Restructuring of the runway involves contouring of the bordering hill, as an alternative to flattening out the mound which will take four to five months.