MALAY, Aklan – President Benigno Aquino III led last week the inauguration of the renovated Caticlan Airport saying that it will pave the way for more opportunities for the country.
“Ang bagong terminal na ito ay maituturing natin na isang malaking trangkahan na magbubukas ng maraming oportunidad. Hindi lamang para sa labas-masok na mga banyagang negosyante at turista ngunit higit sa lahat para sa patuloy na pagyabong ng turismo sa bansa,” the President said in a speech during the inauguration.
He said that the developments in the Caticlan airport will bring long-term economic benefits for the country particularly by creating more jobs for the people in the tourism sector. These developments in the Caticlan airport will make tourists more comfortable, according to the President.
“Ngayon kapag sinabi natin sa mga turista na ‘visit us again’ ay talaga naman pong mas marami na silang dahilan upang bumisitang muli sa Pilipinas. Malinaw po na ang pagpapasinaya natin sa Caticlan Airport ay tanda ng ating kahandaan na ipahayag sa mundo na ‘halina po kayo’ at dumayo sa ating pong bayan,” the President said.
Currently, around 700,000 tourists arrive in Caticlan Airport every year and with the planned widening and development of the airstrip, the government expects this annual tourist arrival to increase up to three million, or as the President noted, the renovations should result to a sudden 30-percent increase in the number of passengers arriving in the airport.
With the continuing developments at the airport, and if every tourist spends $1,000, for food, transportation and souvenir items excluding lodging and hotel, not less than P322.5 billion will be added to the economy of the province of Aklan, the President said.
The chief executive also said the country must not allow itself to be left behind by its Asian neighbors in terms of the quality of its airports.
And through the public-private partnership (PPP) program being spearheaded by the Aquino administration, he said he expects to have more airports and other infrastructures in the future.
San Miguel Corp. (SMC) through its affiliate, TransAire Development Holdings Corp., developed the Caticlan airport under a build-operate-transfer scheme. TransAire will operate the airport for 25 years based on the agreement with the government. The airport was renovated through PPP.
SMC modernized the airport by putting two X-ray machines, additional luggage area, provided ambulance and fire trucks as well as a computerized check-in counter. State-of-the-art scanners bolster security at airport, noted the President.
The airport can now serve night-time flights like big airports in the country because of the new airport navigation and runway lighting systems put up by SMC.
Aside from developing the airport, TransAire has proposed to rename Caticlan Airport changing it to Boracay Airport although the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has yet to approve it.
Among those who joined the President during Saturday’s event were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Transportation and Communication Secretary Mar Roxas, SMC president Ramon Ang, Aklan Gov. Carlito Marquez and Malay, Aklan Mayor John Yap.