BACOLOD City Representative Evelio Leonardia (lone district) and Negros Occidental Occidental Representative Alfredo Benitez (third district), along with their colleagues in the House of Representatives, vowed to strongly endorse the proposed extension of the Bacolod-Silay Airport runway from two kilometers to 2.5 kilometers with an estimated cost of P100 million.
Both legislators joined the House Contingent of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (COCCAAP) and House committee on transportation chaired by Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento during an ocular visit at the airport yesterday.
Also present were Manila Second District Rep. Carlo Lopez and Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon.
Leonardia is the vice chairman of the House committee on transportation.
During the inspection, they were briefed by airport officials on the concerns, needs and status of the Bacolod-Silay Airport being positioned to become an international airport.
Consultative meetings and ocular inspections of airports are being done nationwide in line with the goal of ensuring the retention of the Philippines’ recently regained Category 1 safety rating from the Federal Aviation Authority of the United States.
“It’s good that we knew about the needs and status of the Bacolod-Silay Airport and we have to do something about it. I was told that Congressman Leonardia similarly undertook action to see to it that the airport runway is extended. This was validated by the presentation made by the airport authorities,” Sarmiento said.
Sarmiento was the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) when the Bacolod-Silay Airport was constructed and inaugurated.
Airport authorities are in a better position to know what is best for the airport, he said, particularly also on the need to expand the passenger terminal building.
“Since the volume of traffic is increasing then we need to support their recommendation,” Sarmiento said.
For his part, Leonardia said: “We are happy to note that while I made a recommendation to the DOTC Secretary way back in July or August last year to have the runway extended and terminal expanded, the local CAAP people are also of the same position which is a factor in the ultimate decision of the DOTC.”
Meanwhile, Himelie Fernandez, chief of the Air Traffic Control, said the income and expenses of the Bacolod-Silay Airport for 2013 amounted to P200.320 million with expenditures amounting to P112.291 million.
They have collected P136.374 million and their receivables from several airlines amount to P37.642 million.
“This airport is gaining and we have an P88 million net income for the year 2013,” Fernandez said.
The Bacolod-Silay Airport can now accommodate flights for 24 hours unlike before when airlines and private plane owners have to pay P5,000 per hour if they land or take off beyond 9 p.m.
Benitez said the Department of Public Works and Highways has also started the concreting of the Bacolod Silay-Airport Access Road with a budget of more than P65 million.
The extension project would be until Barangay E. Lopez in Silay City and the extension up to Victorias City is under process.
Source: Carla N. Canet, Sun Star Bacolod