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Boracay airport expansion could include bridge to island

17 June 2015 - Philippine Flight Network

San Miguel Corporation, through a concession deal granted by the Philippines Department of Transportation and Communications, has announced that the newer and larger Caticlan Boracay Airport is expected to be completed in 2016. Rumours include talks of a bridge linking Caticlan to the island of Boracay to alleviate overcrowding.

The new airport has been designed to accommodate the rising number of tourists arriving to visit the resort island of Boracay.

It is rumoured that the corporation will construct a new hotel, convention centre, and medical facilities in Caticlan. company currently owns approximately 20 hectares of land adjacent to the airport. In addition, the corporation plans to construct a bridge to improve access to Boracay Island. This will enable tourists to stay overnight in Caticlan, while spending the day on the beach in Boracay.

San Miguel Corporation is undertaking the airport expansion under its subsidiary, Trans Aire Development Holdings Corporation, which owns the rights to a 25 year build-rehabilitate-operate-transfer concession deal granted by the government.

According to officials from the diversified conglomerate, the runway extension at Godofredo P. Ramos Airport will be completed in 2016. When finished, the runway will extend from the existing 950 meters to 1,800 meters, which is long enough to accommodate the Airbus A320 aircraft.

At present, the limited size of the runway restricts the size of aircraft that can land at the airport to primarily turbo-props. The largest turbo-prop that currently serves the airport is the 76-seat Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 operated by PAL Express. However, Caticlan Airport does presently have jet service operated by SkyJet, which flies the route using a British Aerospace BAE-146 aircraft, which specializes in short take-offs and landings. It is presently the fastest flight between Manila and Boracay.

Expanding the runway will not only improve access to Boracay by enabling larger aircraft such as the 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft to land, but it will also increase direct access as the A320 has the range to fly non-stop to countries such as Japan and Korea, which are important source markets for tourism. Currently, passengers travelling from foreign countries direct to Boracay must fly to Kalibo International Airport.

According to officials from San Miguel Corporation, in addition to constructing a newer and larger passenger terminal, improvements would also be made to allow night landing at the airport. Caticlan Airport is presently the seventh busiest airport in the Philippines.

The completion of the runway extension is expected to be the first phase of the airport development plan, followed by construction of the new terminal building, which could take as much as twenty months to complete.
The P5.3 billion Boracay Airport project will feature a new terminal building that can accommodate up to twelve aircraft with twelve jetways. The latest navigational equipment will be installed to enable the airport to operate in all forms of weather, which will help to reduce flight cancellations. Night landing ability will also prevent flights from being cancelled due to sunset limitations.

Completion of the new airport will be welcome news to the thousands of tourists that visit Boracay Island each year, particularly those travelling from foreign countries, who are presently forced to rely on the inadequate facilities at Kalibo International Airport. Kalibo only has four parking ramps for aircraft. In addition to being congested and an inconvenient two hour drive from Caticlan jetty port, Kalibo Airport lacks modern facilities, systems, and amenities.

Following the development of Caticlan Airport, San Miguel Corporation has expressed interest in developing the surrounding area in Caticlan for providing tourism services to relieve Boracay Island, which is already experiencing overcrowding.