Sunday, March 2, 2008

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.


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