Commercial flights take off at Bantayan airport

Le Phyllis F. Antojado (The Freeman) - November 28, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The newly-upgraded Bantayan Island Airport in northern Cebu is now open for commercial flights.

On the first day of its operations, the airport catered to four maiden flights from Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

Different airline companies launched their newest route using two Cessna planes, 30-seater aircraft, and 50-seater Fokker aircraft.

Lawyer Steve Dicdican, Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority general manager and chief executive officer, said this is to promote travel and tourism in the new normal.

“We are here to market travel. We are here to market in the new normal. Bantayan is open. Cebu is open,” he said.

Dicdican, however, said there are yet no schedules for the commercial flights.

With the opening of Bantayan airport, traveling to the island is seen to be reduced to 30 minutes via air from the usual five to six hours via bus and ferry.

The newly-rehabilitated airport sits on the 29-hectare province-owned lot in Barangay Okoy in Sta. Fe town. Part of the renovation, which began in June 2019, was the runway extension from 900 meters to 1.2 kilometers.

The airport can now accommodate up to 80-seater aircrafts.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who was present during the airport inauguration, commended MCIA and the provincial government for the upgrade.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on tourism nationwide.

He said resumption of tourism operations is among the ways to cope with losses arising from travel restrictions due to the health crisis.

“Napakadami pong nawalan ng trabaho, napakadaming nagugutom ngayon at ang susi po para makabangon muli ay ang turismo dahil natural na maganda ang Cebu at Bantayan. Napaka-importante ng tourism.”

"Nagpapakita ang mga Cebuano na hindi dapat maging hadlang ang COVID-19 para isulong ang kabuhayan sa sektor ng turismo,” he said.

Present during the airport inauguration were Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, Presidential Assistant to the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino, Department of Tourism in Central Visayas Director Shalimar Talino and the town mayors of Sta. Madridejos and Bantayan.

As part of the government’s efforts to boost local tourism, a three-day Suroy-Suroy Sugbo escapade on Bantayan Island kicked off yesterday.

The escapade is an initiative of MCA, the provincial government and the DOT-7.

Maria Lester Ybañez, the provincial tourism officer, said the escapade is a "pocket event" from the main activity, which is the opening of bantayan airport.

Participants of the tourism escapade, including the candidates of the recently-concluded Miss Universe Philippines pageant, took the maiden flights.

"So the best way to sell the province is through our Suroy -Suroy program,” she said. — KQD (FREEMAN)

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