Eleven years after construction first started, the first international airport south of the National Capital Region is finally open. Bicol International Airport (BIA) is located in Daraga, a town in the province of Albay.
BIA is being tagged as the country’s “most scenic gateway” since it has no less than the majestic Mayon Volcano for a backdrop.
According to the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the BIA is ready to start operations and receive commercial flights. However, the flights are currently limited to domestic ones and only in the daytime.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Legazpi city manager Cynthia Tumanut says BIA should be open to domestic night flights by the 7th of November.
Whether or not BIA is ready for international flights is subject to the review of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Tugade said. BIA is expected to accommodate roughly 2 million passengers annually once it’s fully operational.
It got a final inspection by local officials and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on October 3, followed by President Rodrigo Duterte leading the inauguration last October 7.
There was a ceremonial PAL (Philippine Airlines) flight using BIA, but according to PAL Legazpi City manager Erwin Montas, there would be no passengers aboard. PAL’s personnel have been transferred to BIA, but Legazpi Domestic Airport will have a ticket center for regular flights to and from Manila.
In his speech during the inauguration, Tugade said that the negativity and doubts previously surrounding the project were understandable. “I cannot blame the naysayers because there have been three groundbreaking ceremonies for this Bicol International Airport prior to June 2016. … Bicolanos, the airport you’ve been waiting for for almost two decades is here.”