LAGUINDINGAN, Misamis Oriental: President Benigno S. Aquino III visited Tuesday the ongoing construction of the Laguindingan Airport that is expected to boost tourism in the Northern Mindanao region once it becomes operational.
Transportation officials told the President in a briefing that the P7.8 billion airport project will be operational on April 30 this year. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is currently in the process of approving the first flight that will land in the new airport by April, they said.
The Laguindingan Airport can accommodate large aircrafts such as the Airbus A330-300, transportation officials said adding that the airport’s runway could be expanded to accommodate even bigger airplanes like the Boeing 747.
The new facility, with two boarding bridges and five aircraft parking bays, can cater up to 1.6 million passengers each year, officials said.
The project started in 1988 during the leadership of the first Aquino administration but hasn’t materialized until the present administration of President Aquino, 25 years after it was conceptualized.
In his speech during a meeting with Cagayan de Oro officials, the President said the new airport will serve tourists who want to visit the island of Camiguin, Cagayan de Oro City or Iligan City.
With the new airport, Cagayan de Oro will surpass the 460,000 tourist arrivals in 2011 and will reach the 2.5 million foreign and domestic tourist arrivals before the end of 2016, he said.
Aside from building the new airport, the government will compliment its tourism thrust by constructing road projects in Butuan City, Cagayan de Oro City, and the Iligan City road project, the Chief Executive said. The administration is also constructing five bridges that will speed up the travel time to Laguindingan Airport from these areas.
If the Misamis Oriental-Bukidnon bypass road is finished, travel time from the two provinces will be cut from two hours to one hour, he said.
“Sa mga proyekto pong ito na nagpapasuwabe sa daloy ng transportasyon, tiyak ko pong aapaw din ang dami ng turistang dagdagsa rito at higit pang magpapaunlad sa Kalakhang Mindanao,” the President said.
The President said that when he took office in 2010, there were three million tourist arrivals in the country but last year the Philippines recorded 4.3 million foreign tourist arrivals.
According to the President, in 2016, as he steps down from power, he expects that tourist arrivals in the country will reach 10 million per year.