The Department of Transportation plans to spend only P1 million on new aviation infrastructure in 2021, and following the collapse of air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said on Sunday.
“The DOTr’s Aviation Infrastructure Program is getting only P1 million in new capital outlay in the 2021 national budget,” he said.
“To cope with the pre-pandemic boom in air travel and address airport congestion, Congress had authorized over P16 billion in development funding since 2018 to expand and improve the country’s aviation facilities and services.”
Pimentel says he does not expect international air travel to rebound anytime soon.
“The DOTr even equipped many airports so that they can operate flights at night,” he said.
“But the harsh reality is, we are now in a situation wherein all our 49 airports nationwide may be operating well below capacity for a very long time.
“We would urge tourism-related establishments across the country to brace for a long recovery, especially if they used to rely mainly on foreign visitors.”
The Montreal, Canada-based International Air Transport Association earlier said it does not see global airline traffic returning to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
Even domestic air travel might take a long time to bounce back, Pimentel said.
“Our sense is, many Filipino families will likely avoid local air travel for leisure purposes until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available,” he said.
“Most Filipinos seeking leisure will likely take road trips closer to their homes, such as the nearest beach resort, that won’t require air or sea travel.
“The P1-million budget for new aviation infrastructure in 2021 does not mean there won’t be any construction activities in our airports.
“The DOTr is just completing airport projects for which funds have already been obligated.”