Transport dep’t studying Siargao airport relocation

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THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) is studying relocation of the Siargao Airport in Surigao del Norte because of terrain features like nearby hills that make landings dangerous.

Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Antonio L. Tamayo said in a budget hearing in the Senate on Thursday there is an ongoing study to move Sayak airport, in northern Siargao, to the center of the island.

“There are many hills there… There is a study now to relocate the airport,” he told Senator Loren B. Legarda when asked about the possibility of rating Sayak for night operations.

The DoTr proposed a P500 million land-acquisition budget for the new airport in its 2019 budget submitted to the Department of Budget and Management. Mr. Tamayo added that the funds will also finance the preliminary work to prepare the site for construction.

“It’s a new location. It’s more centrally located,” he added.

Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said in the same hearing that developing an airport for Siargao is a DoTr priority.

“The bigger argument for Siargao was the potential for tourism. So that if we will use the old airport, it might limit the potential of the place for tourism,” he said.

Also discussed at the DoTr budget hearing was the government’s reorientation of Busuanga airport in Coron, Palawan. Mr. Tamayo said it is proposing P1 billion for the plan.

“There are obstructions, there are hills. We have funds to reorient the runway. Meaning we’ll have a runway that does not endanger the flight because of the proximity. We have the land area. It’s owned by government as well,” he said.

He noted unlike in the case of Siargao, the new runway for Busuanga will be right beside the existing airport.

Mr. Tamayo called the current runway approach “quite turbulent. By reorienting it, we remove that danger. And we can have a runway that is two-way,” Mr. Tamayo added. — Denise A. Valdez