ILOILO CITY?THE New Iloilo Airport would have its first commercial flight and its inauguration on June 13.
Rafael Coscolluela, presidential adviser for Western Visayas, said Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza has cleared the airport so it could start operations.
President Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to attend the airport?s inauguration, Coscolluela said over radio station dyFM. The inauguration and opening of the New Iloilo Airport had long been delayed.
Ms Arroyo reportedly scheduled the opening of the airport last April 16 but with the First Gentleman undergoing a critical heart operation, she cancelled her Iloilo trip.
Bessi Cebuano, a staff from the Air Transportation Office (ATO), said airline companies have started to transfer some of their facilities from the existing Iloilo Airport at Mandurriao district in this city to the New Iloilo Airport property.
Cebuano said ATO personnel and offices would start to transfer on June 7.
Arturo Valero, National Economic Development Authority regional director, said the new airport would serve as the gateway to the Visayas of air travelers in the country and worldwide. ?The transfer will be a big boost to the business sector,? Valero said.
The government plans to sell the existing 54-hectare Mandurriao airport property.
During an earlier visit here, Ms Arroyo said she was confident that the closure and privatization of the Mandurriao facility would further boost local tourism and economic activities.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said he wants the winning bidder to consider either of these projects: develop the property into a theme park or build a 5,000-seat convention center or establish a hospital or set up an information technology (IT) park for business process outsourcing to encourage call center companies to invest here.
The new airport has a runway of 2.5 kilometers long and 45 meters wide, a passenger terminal with 12,000 square meters of space, and a 1,281-square meter cargo terminal. The airport can accommodate six aircraft simultaneously parking at a time.