The P5-billion Bicol International Airport (BIA) in Daraga, Albay starts receiving commercial domestic flights this Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, on schedule, and will be ready for international flights a month later.

“Construction works for the BIA were delayed for 11 years. It went through 3 groundbreaking ceremonies prior to this administration,” Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade noted when he inspected the airport Sunday, Oct. 3.

As of Oct. 3, 2021, the overall progress rate of the BIA was at 92.56 percent, with 97.28 percent of its passenger terminal building completed. Its runway extension is 79.27 percent finished; Administration Building, 98.93 percent; Air Traffic Control Building, 98.65 percent; Crash Fire Rescue Building, 98.40 percent; Cargo Terminal Building, 98.59 percent and Power House Building, 98.69 percent.

The airport’s passenger boarding bridge will be positioned on October 5, with domestic operations starting Oct. 7.

The BIA project started in 1996 (pre-feasibility study) and the government issued the Notice to Proceed in July, 2009. It was supposed to have been finished in 2016.

However, construction work for the runway, taxiway, apron and fences were mostly uncompleted in 2012 and the project budget was reverted to the national treasury. In 2016, the construction of Landside Facilities (Project 2A) began.

The DOTr fast tracked the airport’s construction, employing 755 workers despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with 1,100 more indirect jobs awaiting locals once the airport becomes operational.

“We are happy to announce that the BIA will be ready to serve domestic air passengers, as promised,” announced Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Chief of Staff and Airport Projects Team Head Danjun Lucas.

“The BIA shall also be ready for international operations by November 7, subject to airline’s application to operate international flights,” he added.

Once fully operational, the BIA is expected to accommodate a total of 2 million passengers a year.

Source: Manila Bulletin (