By Emmie V. Abadilla
After 15 years in the drawing board and thrice re-scheduled launch dates this year, the country’s first eco-airport, the P11-billion Bohol Panglao International Airport (also known as New Bohol International Airport) will at last open this Monday, November 27, 2018.
The new airport will replace Tagbilaran Airport as the gateway to Bohol and flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) will eventually move its Bohol operations to Panglao Airport.
Less than an hour’s flight from Mactan-Cebu International Airport, the gateway to Central Philippines, the Bohol Panglao International Airport is the most convenient gateway to Panglao Island and the rest of mainland Bohol for domestic air travellers.
The airport is designed to accommodate two million passengers, more than double the capacity of the Tagbilaran airport.
Spanning 13,337 square meters, the new airport will initially have a 2,500 meter runway which can facilitate seven aircraft at a time, including long-range commercial planes for more international routes.
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) gave the green light for the construction of the airport way back in 2003.
When the Duterte administration took over in July, 2016, the airport was only 6.48% complete.
“Had there been delays, these did not happen during our time,” stressed Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade, who then ordered construction schedule to be fast-tracked 24/7.
Originally, the airport’s target completion date was set in 2021. The construction started in June 2015, but accumulated up to 48% of slippage due to delays.
“We needed a catch-up plan for the Panglao airport. The 2021 target was just too long. How can you explain to the people that it took you six years to build an airport? So, we speeded it up,” according to the DOTr secretary.
At first, the DOTr targeted to finish the project this June, with commercial operations to start August, 2018. Then came August, the agency re-set the airport’s inauguration date for October, 2018.
Dubbed the “Green Gateway to the World,” the Panglao airport will be the country’s first eco-airport, which was be held to the highest standards of green and sustainable structure.
“This is the kind of airport we should be building, an airport that has regard for the environment and the future generations,” Tugade stressed.
The airport will use mostly natural ventilation. Solar panels will also be installed on the Passenger Terminal Building roof, which can cover around one-third of the airport’s passenger terminal building energy requirement.
It is also expected to boost tourist arrivals and improve trade in the area.
The passenger terminal building (PTB) has an area of 13,884sqm. and equipped with 3 boarding bridges and a baggage handling system.
The apron was likewise engineered to accommodate seven aircraft at one time, including large aircraft for international flights.
A couple of months ago, the DOTr granted “Original Proponent Status” (OPS) to Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc. (AIC), the infrastructure business unit of the Aboitiz Group for the operations and maintenance (O&M), future development and expansion of the airport.
The New Panglao Airport was once part of the government’s P110.42-billion regional airport development initiative which also includes Davao, Iloilo, Laguindingan and Bacolod – before it was unbundled.