Monday, 14 December 2009

PGMA, Ambassador Kenney to inaugurate upgraded Jolo airport

JOLO, Sulu, Dec. 13 (PNA) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and United States Ambassador Kristie Kenney are scheduled to inaugurate on Monday the upgraded airport in this island province.

The upgrading of the Jolo Airport was realized through the joint efforts of the U.S. government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program and Philippine government through the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

The total cost of the Jolo Airport upgrading project is P251 million, with GEM chipping in P156 million and the DOTC, P95 million.

Under the upgrading project, the airport runway was extended from 1,200 meters to 1,845 meters and widened from 18 meters to 30 meters. It is now an all-concrete runway.

Officials of the provincial government as well as from the business group foresee that the upgrading of the Jolo Airport will allow the facility to accommodate larger-bodied aircraft such as Boeing 737s and Airbus 320s.

Previously, the largest aircraft that Jolo Airport could accommodate is the C-130 “Hercules” plane of the Philippine military.

The province of Sulu that comprises 19 towns and with a population of more than 800,000 is being served at present by an 18-seat commercial plane that currently plies the Zamboanga-Jolo route from Monday to Saturday.

Most of the residents, especially businessmen, rely on the ferries that ply from Jolo to Zamboanga and vice versa in traveling from and to this province.

Jolo Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) president Nonoy Go disclosed that the Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) are studying the viability of opening flights from Zamboanga City to Jolo and possibly direct flights from Jolo to Manila and vice versa.

Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan said the province has an abundance of agricultural and sea products and “the ability to get these products to market quickly would boost the local economy.” (PNA)

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