While comfort, improved mobility, and connectivity are expected as results of various development projects in Aklan, more employment and tourism opportunities will likewise flourish to boost economic activities in the province, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade said during the formal inauguration of the upgraded Kalibo International Airport (KIA) today, 04 June 2021.
Taking cue from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s marching order to make the lives of Filipinos comfortable and convenient, Sec. Tugade took the order to heart and went on to deliver the promises made since taking office in 2016.
“Una, malakas ang loob ko na tapusin itong airport na ‘to. Pangalawa, kasama ko ‘yung buong Aviation sector, at kasama ang CAAP, kami po ay naniniwala na malaki ang maitutulong nng proyektong ito, hindi lang sa larangan ng turismo, kundi sa paglago ng ekonomiya dito sa lugar ng Kalibo, Aklan,” Tugade stressed during the inauguration of the newly-improved and renovated gateway.
Tugade said that at least 280 workers were employed during the renovation of the Kalibo International Airport, adding that it will further trigger more employment opportunities as the improved airport becomes operational.
“In other words, this airport will serve as a trigger for employment not only at a time when construction was being done and being made, but also at a time when construction will be completed because it will become an employment generator,” Sec. Tugade pointed out.
Tugade also explained that the improved Kalibo International Airport will promote tourism as it will not only serve local tourists but will also welcome international visitors.
“Ang isang karagdagan dito ay ang turismo. Mapapalaganap at mapapalago ang turismo. Pero hindi lang po 'yan sa kapaligiran ng Aklan, hindi lang ‘ho papuntang Boracay, o sa ibang lugar sa ka-Bisayaan. Ito ‘ho ay magiging international gateway ‘pagkat ang airport na ito ay of international standard,” Sec. Tugade said.
Completed on 15 September 2020 amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the airport’s expanded 2,633.40 square-meter International Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) can now accommodate 406 passengers from its previous 344 passenger volume. Prior to the upgrade, the airport grounds covered only 1,584 square meters.
With the airport terminal’s expansion, queuing passengers are provided with a 126-square meter covered section outside the International PTB for weather protection. Ample space for the operation of Customs, Immigration, and Pre-Screening personnel, has been provided to eliminate long passenger queues.
Airline check-in counters have also been extended to 468-square meters from the previous 216-square meters. Similarly, the passenger pre-departure waiting area now covers 608.40-square meters with the 284.40-square meters added space.
Also repaired during the airport’s renovation phase was the over 4,000 square meters of dilapidated pavement, removing unexpected hazards to parking aircraft.
Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General Captain Jim Sydiongco added that the airport's improvements and renovations also resolved issues such as extreme congestion, dilapidation, and lack of efficient facilities.
“Realizing that a long-term solution is needed to develop this aged structure, CAAP, with the staunch direction of DOTr, launched the project to rehabilitate KIA’s grandeur as a premier airport. Overall repair and restoration of KIA have improved and restored KIA’s look and facilities as a whole,” DG Sydiongco said.
Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores and Kalibo Mayor Emerson Lachica thanked Sec. Tugade for his strong resolve in upgrading and renovating the airport, which they said were not done by previous administrations.
“The development of the Kalibo International Airport started in earnest. What you see now is the manifestation of the commitment of Secretary Tugade and the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to really put Kalibo on the map of the country, as the prime gateway for Boracay and the tourism industry of Aklan,” Gov. Miraflores said.
“One may think at this moment is hard to achieve, but this significant project is one of the trademark services of the Duterte administration,” Mayor Lachica, for his part, said.
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