ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is a step closer in its pursuit of enhanced air connectivity throughout the country, with the completion of various development projects at the Zamboanga International Airport in Zamboanga City and at the Jolo Airport in Sulu province.
DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade lauded the efforts of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for the completion of the two Mindanao airport projects, which are expected to greatly benefit the whole region.
He said these recent developments are just in time for the resumption of commercial operations of most airports, which have suspended operations during the enforcement of strict community quarantine across the country, in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“With the work we are doing, especially with the work the CAAP is continuing with, the aviation sector will surely recover. Ito ‘hong mga proyektong ito ang paraan namin para sabihing (These projects are our way of saying) we will get back on our feet and we will do so by enhancing our mobility and connectivity,” Tugade said.
Improvements made at the Zamboanga International Airport include the rehabilitation of its Passenger Terminal Building (PTB).
There is also continuing appropriations for the site acquisition of the New Zamboanga International Airport, to be located in the Mercedes–Talabaan area.
Improvements were also made at the Jolo Airport, which is the only gateway serving the province of Sulu. The completed improvements include the construction of the airport’s PTB.
Meanwhile, ongoing projects for the Jolo Airport include the continuing construction of its perimeter fence, site acquisition for the runway extension, relocation/construction of fire station building, construction of an administration building, and correction of the runway strip width.
The newly-developed Zamboanga International Airport is located close to Dipolog Airport, while the nearest gateways to the Jolo Airport are the Zamboanga International Airport, Sanga-Sanga Airport, Ipil Airport, and the Pagadian Airport.
CAAP Director General Jim Sydiongco said the improvements in the Zamboanga and Jolo airports signify the readiness of the country’s aviation industry to build regional hubs as the industry transitions to the “new normal” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We may have been hit hard by this pandemic but we will always come up with strategic plans to help cushion its impact. Apart from our completed airport projects, we also have other ongoing projects expected to be operational soon. These will surely contribute to our smooth transition, especially that we are promoting the use of regional airports to decongest NAIA,” Sydiongco said