The first international chartered flight to Bohol is expected to touch down at the Tagbilaran Airport as early as August of this year after national flag carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) threshed out details for the setting up of a temporary passenger terminal to handle the anticipated influx of visitors.
This was revealed by Governor Edgar Chatto during his weekly “Kita ug ang Gobernador” dialogue with the Bohol Media live from Manila on Friday, June 3, 2016 at the Governor’s Mansion.
Chartered flights using PAL Airbus 320 from Incheon, South Korea are scheduled to start initial trips followed by regular commercial flights.
Initial technical studies by CAAP and PAL technical groups showed that the present length of 1.779 kilometers of the Tagbilaran Airport runway is capable of handling PAL’s Airbus 320 aircraft with 156 seats, according to Chatto.
Chatto told the Chronicle that the plan to speed up the entry of international flights to Bohol was part of the discussion with Â PAL President Jaime Bautista during the recent Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Tourism Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) with the ministers of tourism in attendance.
In a separate meeting, Chatto and Bautista talked withÂ CAAP Director General Lt. Gen William Hotchkiss lll AFP (Ret) on Thursday, June 2, 2016 in Manila to discuss the planned international flights to Tagbilaran Airport by PAL.
Also present were representatives of theÂ Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID), Bureau of Customs and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
With theÂ growing demand for more airline seats for Bohol and theÂ completion of the New Bohol Airport still two years away, Bautista saw the need to make use of the Tagbilaran Airport with initial chartered flights followed by regular commercial trips.
PAL decided to look into the possibility of building a separate terminal for its planned international flights from Incheon, South Korea to Bohol after finding the present terminal too cramp to accommodate the additional international passengers.
Present aircraft schedules that are bunched from morning to afternoon with an average arrival and departures of nine flights causing passenger congestion at the arrival and pre – departure areas.
According to Chatto, with the number of domestic flights and passengers using the present terminal, PAL is eyeing a vacant lot beside the emergency rampÂ used as parking space for disabled aircraftÂ inside the airport complex for the temporary passenger terminal.
Negotiations for the lease of the 3000 square meter lot owned by the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) is set soon with the construction of a modular type terminal or the possible lease of the 3,000 square meter air-conditioned tent popularly known as “The Block” owned by the Alturas Group of Companies.
Marlito Uy, General Manager of Alturas Group of Companies told the Chronicle that feelers has been sent by PAL representatives to negotiate for the lease of “The Block” with a capacity of 2000 persons.
If plans push through, Tagbilaran Airport will earn the bragging rights over the New Bohol Airport for a first touchdown of a commercial aircraft from an international flight.Â (Chito M. Visarra)