Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The Philippines has taken off and recovered from the "fall" of the aviation industry, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III claimed Wednesday, citing the International Civil Aviation Organisation's recent lifting of the "significant safety concerns" tag on the country.
"Only recently our country was left gawking at the clouds, and development seemed unreachable. Now the impossible has become a reality. If we were used to the cycle of trip and fall, now we're recovering and ready to break free," Aquino said at the groundbreaking of the upgrading project of the Roxas City airport in Capiz.
He said the 215-million peso (US.2 million) Roxas Airport Development Project is part of the 7.69-billion peso programme for the repair of airports throughout the country this year.
"Once we fix this airport, why won't Capiz benefit from it? Once travel to the Philippines becomes easy, the progress of the economy and the life of our people happens fast," he said.
The redeveloped airport is expected to accommodate 797 passengers a day, or close to 300,000 passengers a year, and meet foreign demand, the President said.
The President said business leaders from other countries have found it difficult to book a flight to the Philippines for the many conferences being held here. He said the country's carriers need 119 new aircraft to meet the demand.
Removing stumbling blocks
If the country is to gain more momentum, the stumbling blocks should be removed, Aquino said.
He cited the enactment of the Common Carriers Tax Act, which removed the 3-per cent tax on foreign aircraft and ships, he said.
Aquino said the government will also be using the Civil Aviation Safety Oversight Reporting and Tracking System as a database of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
"Our air operators are also mandated to undergo the minimum required annual inspection. The CAAP also set up a certificate management department to ensure that all local carriers are cleared to fly to other countries," he said.
"The outcome of this is to encourage several international carriers to fly to the country, and along with this, tourism will improve and industries will flourish," Aquino said.
The Roxas City airport upgrading will expand the 875-square-metre terminal by 626 square metres, and "bump up" its design capacity from 153,000 passengers a year to 291,000. Last year, passengers reached 217,552, exceeding the terminal's capacity.
It will lengthen the runway from 1,890 kilometres to 2,010 kilometres, thus, improving the safety of the Airbus A320 aircraft flying in and out of the Roxas City airport.
Also part of the upgrade are: the installation of 91.5-million peso worth of night-landing facilities; a 24.24-million peso runway asphalt overlay; the acquisition of 33.5-million peso worth of new fire trucks; and the resettlement of squatters in a new site at a cost of 18 million pesos.
"Once this project is completed, it can accommodate 797 passengers a day, up from 419," Aquino said in his speech aired over government radio.
"Indeed, our goal is clear: to further boost tourism in Capiz, strengthen the various businesses and industries, and push the province on the path of progress and development," Aquino said.