May 29, 2012
By Rainier Allan Ronda
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has approved an additional P2-billion budget for the new Southern Luzon International Airport (SLIA), which is due for completion in 2014.
DOTC Secretary Manuel Roxas II approved the realignment of P2 billion from the unspent funds of the Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) budget in 2011.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said he expects another P2 billion to be allotted in 2013.
Salceda said the international airport is expected to accommodate 650,000 foreign tourist arrivals in 2016, as estimated by the Albay-Sorsogon-Masbate Tourism Alliance.
Salceda spearheaded the organization of the alliance of Bicol’s three southernmost provinces as a novel tack in tourism marketing as chairman of the Bicol Regional Development Council.
The Legazpi domestic airport is only serving 11 flights daily and could not accommodate new landing system instruments.
Sundown restrictions also curtail flight options. Experts have long abandoned the expansion of the Legazpi airport due to its close proximity to Mayon Volcano.
SLIA is strategically situated to serve both Luzon and the Visayas and is projected to help boost tourism in Bicol and the entire country in the long term.