GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 15 Jan) – The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) will begin this month preparatory works for the P959-million expansion project for the international airport here.
Noel Quiratman, secretary of the Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12, said such development was relayed to the council by the DOTC, which had adopted the project as among its priorities this year.
The RDC-12 and other local stakeholders made a strong push last year for the implementation of the project that was funded by the national government under the 2015 budget.
“We expect the initial works to start within this month,” said Quiratman, who is also the assistant director of the National Economic and Development Authority in Region 12.
The official said the project covers the rehabilitation and expansion of the airport’s terminal building and other component facilities.
He said the arrival and departure area of the terminal building, which has not undergone any major repair since it opened in 1996, will be expanded to cope with the airport’s growing passenger traffic.
Quiratman said the building’s basic facilities will be upgraded to provide more comfort to airline passengers and other users.
“The expansion is also aimed at attracting more tourists to our area,” he said.
The city airport, which is classified by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) as an alternate international airport, mainly serves the air transport requirements of the greater part of Region 12.
The city is considered as the region’s airline hub and has seen a surge in traffic following the entry of budget airfares here several years ago.
CAAP officials here said the airport serves seven regular fights and an average of 1,000 passengers on a daily basis.
Tiger Airways, Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific serve five to six daily flights for the Manila-General Santos route.
PAL uses the wide-bodied Airbus 330-300 aircraft while Cebu Pacific, which serves three additional weekly flights each for the Iloilo-General Santos and Cebu–General Santos routes, utilizes Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft.
Low-cost carrier Air Asia had signified to open daily flights soon for the Manila-General Santos route.