DARAGA, Albay—The construction of the Bicol International Airport here, touted as the “most scenic gateway” in the country, is set to be completed by December this year.
Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said Transportation Secretary Arturo Tugade made this assurance recently. Data showed that as of Jan. 13, 2021, the BIA’s completion rate was logged at 72.2 percent,
Works on the project are now moving fast, being one of the priorities of the Duterte administration.
The BIA, which Salceda initiated, is situated within his congressional district. It is among the large infrastructure projects under the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program and is envisioned to help make the economy more stable. It is also expected to help stave off the harsh impacts of the health crisis.
The aviation industry is among the sectors hardest hit by the crippling effects of the pandemic and BIA’s completion is expected to give the sector a boost, according to Salceda.
After years of sluggish implementation, the BIA construction resumed with vigor under the Duterte administration. Development of landside facilities (Package 2A), runway extension and passenger terminal building (Package 2B) commenced and took significant strides in 2017.
Package 2A of the airport, which covers the landside facilities such as the Administration Building, Air Traffic Control Building, Crash Fire Rescue Building and the Maintenance Building, is now 88.2 percent complete. Package 2B, which includes the Passenger Terminal Building and the runway, is at 49.5-percent completion.
Previously delayed by various adverse factors, the Department of Transportation assured the completion of the P4.8-billion BIA project and instituted a 24/7 work program for it.
Salceda, who patiently worked on the project for years, said the BIA is considered a vital key to development and is envisioned to unlock the economic potentials of Southern Luzon.
The BIA is designed to accommodate some two million passengers annually with higher capacity facilities and state-of-the-art operational safety. It is expected to transform Albay, Bicol’s regional center, into an economic powerhouse, he said.
Salceda said “the BIA will play a huge role in the country’s economic recovery, especially when international travel resumes.”
Once completed, the BIA, which features the iconic Mayon Volcano as its magnificent backdrop, is expected to serve some 2 million airline passengers yearly.
It is situated right at the heart of the Bicol Region, home to the world’s iconic Mayon volcano and the Cagsawa Ruins. Strongly pushed by Salceda during his earlier stint in Congress and later as Albay governor and Bicol Regional Development Council chair for nine years, the project started in 2005 but construction in earnest began only in 2009.
“There is now reasonable optimism the executive decisiveness of the Duterte administration could deliver the BIA, a vital infrastructure to help realize the potentials of Bicol and Southern Luzon, and which is also crucial to country’s development,” the Albay lawmaker said.
Tugade, in recent meetings with Salceda, committed to make the airport operational before President Duterte’s term ends.