Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Tourism chief: Boracay airport ready by Sept.

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The Caticlan airport, gateway to the internationally renowned resort island of Boracay, will be opened to bigger aircraft in September after the departments of tourism and transportation recently gave the go-ahead to upgrade the runway.

Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano in a statement said the Caticlan International Airport Development Corp. (CIADC), a private consortium, has been granted the 25-year airport upgrade project which starts this month.

The upgrade, prompted by a series of minor plane mishaps this year, will start with the contouring of a bordering hill to lengthen the runway. Durano said this part of the project would be finished by September, just as the tourist traffic starts to get heavy.

"The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, government agencies concerned and the private sector are consolidating all efforts to complete the runway upgrade. We have been assured it will be fully operational in September, the start of Boracay's peak season," Durano said.

The recent accidents, involving planes overshooting the runway, prompted the CAAP earlier this month to prohibit the larger aircrafts of Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Zest Airways from using the airport. At present, the runway is limited to one-way takeoffs and landings by smaller planes.

With the Caticlan airport—which is only 10 minutes away by ferry from Boracay—closed for rehabilitation, the major airlines are using the Kalibo, Aklan, airport which is two hours away by bus from the resort island.

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