3 sites considered for Bukidnon’s airport

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 11 April) – Three sites inspected for the proposed domestic airport in Bukidnon are “technically feasible,” with the final selection hinging on the economic and financial feasibility of the project.

Raul Glorioso, department manager of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) aerodrome engineering unit, told MindaNews the proposed project is still at the feasibility study stage expected to be done in July 2013. After which, he added, they will be ready with recommendations and fund sourcing.

He cited the three sites as an airstrip in the municipality of Don Carlos, another area in Cabangahan here in Malaybalay, and in Dabongdabong, Valencia City.

Glorioso said they inspected the three sites during the April 3-4 visit of the team the leads. The team included a representative from Philjac, Inc. and Science Vision for Technology, tasked to conduct the feasibility study for the project initially dubbed “Bukidnon Airport Development Project.”

The study intends to determine the air travel demand for Bukidnon and “identify the most suitable site for a new airport.” The study also seeks to check the most effective and efficient way to serve the air travel requirements “not only of Bukidnon, but as well as of the Central Mindanao area.”

Glorioso and the team also held a coordination and consultation meeting with different sectors for assistance in providing relevant data and information needed in the study.

During the consultation, Roderico Bioco, president of the Bukidnon Kaamulan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (BKCCII), welcomed the expansion to three proposed sites.

He said they were told that the proposed airport needs at least 180 to 200 hectares and a runway of about 2.1 kilometers. He cited that one issue in airport development is land acquisition.

MindaNews reported in August 2012 that the CAAP has recommended the development of the existing airstrip in Maray-maray in Don Carlos into an international airport based on statements from Bukidnon Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr.

Zubiri revealed it in a meeting with members of the Bukidnon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BKCCI) then.

Citing the CAAP’s technical report, a MindaNews source said the airport, when developed, can accommodate up to 4C type of aircrafts like the Boeing 737 or Airbus 320. The report has also recommended the conduct of a feasibility study to determine the economic viability of the proposed project.

The BKCCI has backed the development of an airport in Bukidnon.

Roberto Tinsay, BKCCI vice president for membership, said they are pushing for it for the benefit of business and development in the province.

“It will boost business in Bukidnon and change the landscape of the business environment in the province,” said Manny James Cudal, chair of the Bukidnon Micro-Small-Medium Enterprise Development Council.

“If you have a fast delivery of good s and services, you have faster returns of investment,” he added.

Cudal said that while the airport needs a big investment, “the return of investment could trickle down to the people.”

“It will pave the way to easier transportation access especially with the transfer of airport operations,” he added.

Ever since, Bukidnon travellers have to go to the Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro City, about two hours away from this city. But a new airport is about to be opened in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental to replace the Lumbia Airport.

Maite Abellanosa, point person for tourism at the BKCCI, noted that the transfer of airport operations to Laguindingan is disadvantageous to Bukidnon because it is farther and thus more time consuming and costly.

Abellanosa said it is difficult to promote Bukidnon without its own airport.(Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)