8 airports to open

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — While the opening of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal-3 is still uncertain, eight airports outside Metro Manila worth P15.51 billion are due for completion this year.

Presidential Management Staff chief Cerge Remonde said yesterday four are scheduled to be finished before the middle of the year—New Iloilo, Casiguran, Kalibo and Ozamis Airports.

Remonde said four other airports—Bulan, New Bacolod, Siargao and Cotabato—are set to be completed before yearend. He said 20 others will be completed before 2010 and three more by 2011.

All in all, 31 priority airport projects costing P94.37 billion are being constructed, improved or rehabilitated nationwide by the government.

In a briefing for Palace newsmen, Manila International Airport Authority general manager Alfonso Cusi declined to give a new target date for the opening of the Naia-3 after aviation authorities decided to shelve the March 31 opening of the terminal.

The “soft opening” was postponed on the recommendation of the Hong Kong-based consultants hired by MIAA which found structural deficiencies in the construction of Naia-3.

Cusi said the opening of the air terminal slated for the third quarter of 2007 has likewise been pushed back.

He said aviation authorities have asked the engineering contractor, Takenaka Corp. of Japan, to correct the defects in the structural works before they could announce a new date for the opening of the facility.

Takenaka was also requested to speed up the completion of the Naia-3 so that further delay in its opening can be avoided. The Japanese firm was hired by the original project contractor, the Philippine International Airport Terminals Co., to build the air terminal.

Last year’s scheduled opening of Naia-3 was canceled when a portion of its ceiling collapsed due to poor workmanship and substandard materials used.

Cusi said Takenaka could be held liable for the delay in the completion of the air terminal. He said this has caused enormous damages to the government and the country specially in terms of forfeited income.

Remonde said that of the 31 airport projects, 16 are being improved or constructed in Central Philippines, six in North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle, seven in Mindanao and two in the Luzon Urban Beltway. These are all intended to improve the transport of agricultural products and provide access to key tourism destinations all over the archipelago.

Expected to be completed and inaugurated next month is the P9.7 billion New Iloilo Airport of international standards in Cabatuan, Iloilo replacing the existing airport in Manduriao, Iloilo City.