Sunday, March 2, 2008

The New Bacolod Silay International Airport

As you land in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, fondly called the "City of Smiles", a new and spanking airport greets you. Finally, after a long wait, the new Bacolod Silay International Airport is now open and operational, welcoming guests, tourists, balikbayans, Negrenses and the like.

The new airport is located in Silay City, not far from Bacolod, once known as the "Paris of Negros Occidental". Silay is known for its old houses which attest to the grandeur and victory of the opulent sugar industry long before the great depression of the 80's.

Now, the new international airport serves the general area of Bacolod City, the capital city of Negros Occidental in the Philippines. This airport replaced the Bacolod City Domestic Airport located in Bacolod City proper. The Bacolod-Silay City International Airport inherited its IATA and ICAO airport codes from the former.

The airport is located 15 kilometers northeast of Bacolod City on a 181-hectare site in Barangay Bagtic, Silay City. The airport is the 3rd international airport in the Visayas and the 2nd international airport in the Western Visayas region, after Mactan-Cebu International Airport and Iloilo International Airport, and the 1st international airport built on the island of Negros.

A Brief History

Planning for a new airport in Bacolod City commenced in 1997, when the Japan International Cooperation Agency initiated a study indicating the need for expansion at four Philippine airports: namely Bacolod City Domestic Airport, Mandurriao Airport in Iloilo City, Legazpi Airport in Legazpi City and Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City.Of the four airports, two have been completed (Iloilo and Bacolod), and two are in planning (Legazpi and Tacloban).

In February 1999, another JICA study was commissioned, this time on the detailed plan of the new airport. The study was completed by March 2000 and was funded by a 430-million yen grant. Immediately after the completion of the study, JICA hired Pacific Consultants International as advisers to the project.

The project was opened for bidding on August 25, 2003, with the winning bid going to the Takenaka-Itochu Joint Venture (TIJV). Physical construction on the new 4.3 billion-peso airport, funded in part by an 8.2-billion yen loan, commenced in August 2004. A 900-day deadline was imposed for the airport to be completed,which broadly corresponds to January 2007.

The airport was complete as of July 16, 2007, although there was considerable debate over whether or not the airport should be opened due to the length of its runway.A 500-meter extension of the runway was planned in order for the airport to accommodate larger aircraft.Depending on the scenario, the airport had a foreseen opening date of November 2007 or sometime in 2010, after the completion of a diversion road leading to the airport.

The first aircraft ever to land at the airport was a small fourteen-seater turboprop owned by Vincent Aviation. The Reims-Cessna F406 with aircraft registration number ZK-VAF, piloted by Steve Gray of New Zealand landed at the airport at 9:55 in the morning of September 26, 2007. The airport officially opened and began operations on January 18, 2008.


In the News

New Bacolod-Silay Airport complements super-region strategy
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

THE P5.6-billion New Bacolod-Silay Airport, which has been operational four days ago, complements the super region strategy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Negros Occidental, the province where the new airport of international standards is located is part of the Central Philippines, which is under the super region strategy adopted by the President prioritizes tourism investments and energy independence.

Sun.Star Network Online's coverage of the Sinulog 2008 Festival

"The new airport gives further emphasis to the super region strategy to promote and hasten further economic growth and development nationwide with the focus on the comparative advantages per region and provinces to promote more effective and efficient complementation in the forward-backward linkages," Vice President Noli de Castro said in his message during the inauguration of the New Bacolod-Silay Airport.

De Castro added that under the strategy, the government is committed to pursue prioritized program of airport development to trigger business. This (airport) will open a gateway to regional centers and promote major tourism destination and to make tourism promotion the primary development plot to Central Philippines.

Japanese Embassy Representative Eiichi Oshima during the inauguration revealed that based on statistics the old Bacolod Airport is the fifth biggest airport in terms of the volume of domestic passengers in the country and has continually increased by more than 50 percent in the past ten years.

Thus, according to Oshima, a bigger and more efficient airport is needed to meet this demand and the completion of the New Bacolod-Silay Airport meets the demand that will eventually increase the economic activity in the province and improve the lives of the Negrenses.

"With the new airport in Silay, it offers endless opportunities for the city but it does not mean loss for Bacolod, rather it (Bacolod) can focus on its competitive edge in commerce and business and as a highly urbanized city, it has the potential to develop the old airport into a central business area or a commercial mix-use area," de Castro added.

The New Bacolod-Silay airport is an example of a project where the government is an active facilitator for other donors like Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to come in for financial assistance.


New Bacolod-Silay airport opened
January 18th, 2008

MANILA, Philippines -- Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro R. Mendoza opened yesterday for commercial operations the P5.7-billion New Bacolod-Silay Airport.

The new Bacolod-Silay Airport will replace the existing Bacolod City Airport.

Located in Barangay Bagtic, Silay City, the new airport was built to cater to the increasing number of passenger and cargo traffic in Negros Occidental and its influence areas.

"It will boost the business and economic activities in the Western Visayas region," Mendoza said.

Vice President Noli de Castro led the inauguration ceremonies together with Secretary Mendoza.

Construction of the new airport was funded under the New Bacolod (Silay) Airport Development Project of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) for P5.6 billon.