Gov. Edgar Chatto has cited and considered the upcoming daily Korea-Bohol flights and the opening of the Panglao Airport next June as both economic breakthroughs in the province.
These are awaited with much excitement as they will vastly improve the local tourism alone, which domino impact on the economy can be almost immeasurable.
PAL AND DIRECT FLIGHTS FROM KOREA
The governor said the Philippine Airlines (PAL) has taken the lead in opening Bohol to international travel routes with its daily flights from Incheon, Korea to Tagbilaran City starting right this coming June 22.
Consequently, there will be direct flights from Clark, Pampanga to Tagbilaran City because the aircraft will have its stopover in the said Luzon point from Korea to Bohol and vice-versa.
Once the new Bohol airport in Panglao will be operational in June of 2018, more international markets will have a direct connection to the island province.
Chatto said the new airport is expected to accommodate at least seven commercial airplanes at a time as against the existing one plane policy at the Tagbilaran City Airport, which capacity is very limited.
The Korea-Bohol flights and Panglao airport opening are true “breakthroughs” in travel and tour, giving convenience never known before in the transport of people and goods to and from Bohol, he said.
At separate meetings, Project Director Edgar Mangalili of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) reassured the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the mayors of the Panglao airport opening in June next year.
Chatto, who attended the meeting of the Bohol League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) right in Panglao on Thursday, said the much-anticipated development has truly excited the mayors.
Of the airport projects currently implemented in the country, the Panglao airport is said to have the biggest capacity measured by the number of passengers it is expected to accommodate yearly.
Between two and three million tourists, guests and visitors are projected to pass through the new air gateway annually in the near future.
Bohol’s tourist arrival as of last December already reached a little over one million, the governor happily reported during his regular weekly Kita ug Ang Gobernador program on Friday.
Observing Chatto’s media forum at the Governor’s Mansion, visiting officials from Abra in northern Luzon led by Provincial Administrator Michael Ronald Bersamira, Jr. welcomed the Korea-Clark-Bohol flight development.
DEV’T UPSURGE ANTICIPATED
The anticipated development upsurge to come forth because of the full Panglao airport operation has also thus necessitated this early the conduct of the study for the fourth Tagbilaran-Panglao bridge.
Chatto said the bridge will connect Bool in the city and Catarman, Dauis in Panglao island.
Its need may not be immediate, he said, but feasibility study must be started now because “we have to be proactive and plan well to achieve our vision surely, best.”
This is even if the feasibility study and advance engineering design for the third Tagbilaran-Panglao offshore connector from the vicinity of the city port to Totolan-Songcular area in Dauis are nearing completion.
At one more meeting last week, the governor got update also on the need of nationalizing certain Panglao barangay roads easily leading to the airport and from it to the resorts.
One of these roads is a direct immediate access to the airport terminal building, has to be widened to four lanes, and installed with streetlights, among others, for convenience and safety.
Further, the governor will have begun the feasibility study for the second development phase of the new airport, utilizing the space next to the 2.5-kilometer runway.
He will have it discussed at an upcoming meeting of the Provincial Development Council (PDC), which the governor chairs.
SUNRISE-SUNSET OPENING FLIGHTS
The DOTr director told the members of the provincial board at their pre-session conference and the mayors at their separate meeting that the Panglao airport opening day flights will be from sunrise to sunset.
Mangalili said the so-called visual flight rules (VFR) will apply in the first six months of the airport operation until night flying and landing are safe and allowed beginning in January of 2019.
Flights by that time will be 24 hours and all-weather using the instrument flight rules (IFR) because all necessary night aviation equipment at the airport will have been completed, he said.
Asked through text of what other reassuring details the DOTR director did tell them, Board Member Tomas Abapo, Jr. replied: (The airport project) funding is ok; speed of work ok; 7 planes can land at one time, 6 on tube docks.”
It was Abapo who earlier asked for the presence of the airport project officials and contractor to update the SP on the project.
Abapo said Mangalili also told them that the airport “can accommodate big planes for night flights and will have required, necessary immigration, customs and quarantine officers.”
The Tagbilaran airport will be “immediately closed” once the Panglao facility will have operationalized according to Mangalili, Abapo said.
This information was likewise shared by the DOTR official to the mayors in their meeting with the governor at the Bellevue Resort in Panglao Thursday night.
MAYORS PRAY FOR ‘THE PILOT’
Meanwhile, Chatto said the mayors’ meeting was opened with a prayer for the “Boniel couple,” one of them—the wife, a mayor—was herself an aviation professional.
Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Boniel was to attend the meeting if she did not meet her death and dumped into the sea off Mactan island in Cebu in a cold-blooded murder implicating her own husband, Board Member Rey Niño Boniel, Wednesday dawn.
The lady mayor was a former Airasia pilot holding the rank of a captain.
On June 7, 2016, the wife Boniel, then already a proclaimed mayor, was commended by the Airasia for piloting back to Cebu for safe landing a Manila-bound commercial plane in February of the same year.
“The aircraft necessitated a precautionary engine No. 2 shutdown due to oil leak and, through her outstanding airmanship, the flight safely landed back in Cebu,” her commendation reads.
Exactly a year on June 7, 2017, the pilot-mayor was killed by her husband, the police said.
She did not see a plan to relocate a Cebu private aviation school to Bien Unido, realized- where the proponent developer would also build an air park to serve tourism at the same time.
Under the seawater off Bien Unido is a grotto of the Virgin Mary which has been attracting tourists.
Below the sea, the search and retrieval operation for the mayor’s dead body continued as of press time. (Ven rebo Arigo)