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Airport refit hastens rehab

TDT

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Described as a showcase of his administration’s determination to improve the lives of Filipinos, particularly residents of regions devastated by typhoon Yolanda, President Rodrigo Duterte inaugurated the renovated Ormoc Airport which was completed in record time last year.

The P34-million airport rehabilitation finished on 31 May last year after starting 1 February that year, according to the Department of Transportation (DoTr).

The airport was damaged by both the super typhoon in 2013 and a strong earthquake in 2017.

The renovated airport has been expanded from 150 square meters to 1,350 square meters to accommodate more passengers.

When he was still Davao City Mayor, the President was among the first officials who responded to requests for help from Leyte.

The airport rehabilitation included the renovation of the terminal building and the construction of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) administration building.

Joining the President in the unveiling of the marker for the upgraded airport were DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade, Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez, An Waray Rep. Florencio Noel, Leyte Vice Governor Carlo Loreto, Leyte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and CAAP Director General Jim Sydiongco.

Ormoc Airport’s 2,042-meter by 36-meter runway will go through developments with the ongoing P82-million asphalt overlay and strip grade correction project, which is 61 percent complete and a P55-million runway widening project, which is targeted for completion in 2020.

The 41-hectare airport, classified as Principal Class 2 by the CAAP, accommodated 1,267 passengers from Air Juan and Cebu Pacific and served 80,244 aircraft, including those for general aviation, in 2018. It also hosted a training center of Cebu-based Indiana Aerospace University.

The newly-renovated Ormoc Airport Passenger Terminal Building.

Boon to tourism

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the presence of world-class tourism destinations in western Leyte has convinced the government to speed up the airport’s development.

“The government is actively pushing for developments in Ormoc to help boost not only the city’s but also Leyte province’s trade, economy and tourism. Ormoc City is home to tourist sites such as Lake Danao, Tongonan Hot Springs National Park and Alto Peak, the highest mountain in Eastern Visayas,” Tugade said.

He also credited the persistence of Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez for the quick rehabilitation of the airport.

“She was really relentless. She was determined but at the same time charming. So she was effective,” Tugade said.

Leading Edge Air Services Corp. (LEASCOR), an airline operating in Basco, Batanes and Borongan, Eastern Samar, plans to open Ormoc to Manila flights.

More airlines coming

LEASCOR Vice Chairman Gilbert Llanto a hub-in, hub-off concept of operation at the Ormoc Airport will be introduced.

Under the concept, the plane will either take passengers from airports in Borongan or Guiuan in Eastern Samar before landing in Ormoc to pick up Cebu-bound passengers.

“What we will do is we will bundle it with another destination that has regular flights. That is our initial approach, then if we see that the market of Ormoc-Cebu is okay, we will now have a specific flight for Ormoc only,” Llanto said in a meeting with DoTr officials.

Serving a Cebu-Ormoc flight will not only provide better accessibility, but will also help promote the city’s tourism.

Ormoc City is part of the northwest Leyte tourism corridor by the Department of Tourism covering the towns and cities in the third, fourth and fifth legislative districts of the province.

Top tourist destinations in Ormoc and nearby areas include the violin-shaped Lake Danao in Ormoc, Tongonan Geothermal Plant in Ormoc and Kananga town, Cuatro Islas in Hindang and Inopacan towns, 16,000 Blossoms in Baybay City and the Kalanggaman Island in Palompon town.