Press Release
June 22, 2008

Loren bats for new Aklan airport authority to reinforce Boracay

Sen. Loren Legarda, Senate economic affairs committee chairperson, has sought the creation of a new state-sponsored entity that would develop fully and oversee the two airports in Aklan province that serve as gateways to the world-class island-resort of Boracay.

Legarda's proposal is contained in a bill that proposes to establish the Aklan Airport Authority, which would look after the continuous modernization of the Kalibo airport in the Municipality of Kalibo as well as the Caticlan airport in the Municipality of Malay.

"We have to constantly build up the two airports, to include adequate night landing and all-weather support systems and equipment, to cope up with the growing demands of travel and leisure, and to support the burst of business activities associated with rapid tourism expansion," Legarda said.

"In the case of the Kalibo airport, we envision it with a truly world-class passenger terminal as well as modern safety and security facilities," Legarda said.

Passengers flying the Manila-Kalibo-Manila, Manila-Caticlan-Manila and the Cebu-Kalibo-Cebu routes have steadily increased, largely due to the continuing surge in Boracay-bound foreign and domestic tourists.

In 2007, a total of 596,784 tourists arrived in Boracay, up seven percent from 558,084 in 2006.

Budget carrier Cebu Pacific recently added Cebu-Kalibo to its domestic routes. Low-fare PAL Express has also launched a Manila-Caticlan service, with 12 flights daily, using 50-seater Bombardier Q300 turboprops.

The Kalibo airport is one of the country's 10 "international airports" with border control facility used in international flights. It is now getting a massive facelift with the construction of a new P80-million terminal.

The Caticlan airport (also called the Godofredo P. Ramos Airport) is just a "principal Class 2 airport" used for prop and jet aircraft smaller than the B737, A320 or DC9. However, due to the tourism surge, the airport is now the country's fifth busiest.

The Kalibo airport now operates as a mere division of the Air Transportation Office. The Caticlan airport operates as a mere extension of the Kalibo airport.

As proposed by Legarda in Senate Bill 940, the new airport entity would be attached to the Department of Transportation and Communications, and get adequate initial capital from the national government.

A board of 11 members, including the governor of Aklan and four private sector representatives endorsed by him or her, would direct the new airport body.

Income generated from terminal fees and other sources would be shared by the national, provincial and municipal treasuries, while a portion would be retained by the new airport entity.

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