Malaysian plane in GenSan to unload Aboitiz coal plant equipment

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/11 September) — It was not an emergency landing nor a foreign plane’s commercial maiden voyage in this thriving port city, the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines.”

A Malaysia Airlines plane landed at the General Santos City international airport on Wednesday to bring in equipment for a new coal-fired power plant in the Davao region, two sources confirmed on Friday.

The Malaysian airplane left the city noontime Thursday after it was emptied of its cargoes, Rudy Boborol, a heavy equipment operator at the city’s airport said on the phone.

The presence of Malaysia Airlines surprised residents and airport passengers since foreign airlines do not have flights to General Santos City so far.

Boborol described the Malaysian airplane as a “big-body 757 type”.

The heavy equipment unloaded from the plane were put on waiting trucks, he said, adding this was the first time he saw a Malaysian plane at the General Santos airport, with someone even branding it the “mysterious Malaysian Airlines plane in GenSan.”

It turned out the heavy equipment were bound for the 300-megawatt (MW) coal plant of Therma South, Inc (TSI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aboitiz Power Corp, located in Davao City.

Wilfredo Rodolfo III, Aboitiz Power corporate communications manager, confirmed that they hired Malaysia Airlines to bring in the equipment.

“In order to expedite the commissioning of the second unit of Therma South’s 300-MW power plant project, we decided to charter a Boeing 747 of Malaysian Airlines to quickly fly in the necessary part and equipment,” he said in a statement.

Since the unloading equipment of the General Santos City airport is more ready and complete, we decided to bring in the equipment via General Santos than the Davao City airport to fast track the delivery, he added.

Davao and General Santos cities are less than three hours apart by land travel.

Rodolfo said the firm chartered Malaysia Airlines “to bring the equipment to expedite the replacement of parts and get the power plant into service so it can help alleviate the Mindanao power crisis.”

Unit 1 of TSI with 150 MW of capacity is already completing its testing and commissioning, he said, adding that Unit 2 (another 150 MW) needed replacement parts and should be online by early 2016. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)