Ports, airports in WV set for upgrades

Iloilo airport in the town of Cabatuan will have major upgrades this year for the comfort of passengers. (Francis Allan L. Angelo)

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) are advancing upgrades to air and sea ports, with some projects set for completion by year-end.

The PPA detailed three major enhancement projects involving the Parola and Iloilo River wharfs in Iloilo City and the San Jose Port in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique.

The Parola Wharf expansion, now 70.46 percent complete, will allow more fiber boats to dock, improving ferry service to and from Guimaras. Completion is expected by December 11, 2024.

The Iloilo River Wharf, at 64.18 percent completion, will feature improved berthing infrastructure for Roll-On-Roll-Off (RORO) vessels, with an expected completion date of October 12, 2024.

Allan Rojo, Ports Manager of the PPA Panay-Guimaras Port Management Office, said these projects aim to enhance travel convenience between Iloilo City and Guimaras province.

“The expanded area will significantly improve the travel experience and operational efficiency for the Iloilo-Guimaras route,” Rojo said during a forum hosted by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) on Tuesday, June 4.

Enhancements at San Jose Port include perimeter fence improvements, gates, a guardhouse, a welcome arc, and asphalt overlaying on roads and pavements.

With a 34.94 percent completion rate, it is expected to finish by December 2024.

“We are widening the road to the [Port Management Office] and our gate complex to meet international standards. These improvements aim to attract more stakeholders and shipping lines to Antique,” Rojo explained.

Meanwhile, the Iloilo International Airport will undergo procurement for improvements, funded with P190.5 million from Republic Act No. 11975 (General Appropriations Act of 2024) allocated to CAAP Area VI as of May 7.

Engr. Eusebio Monserate Jr., CAAP Area Manager, outlined planned enhancements, including an additional 300 seats to the current 720 seating capacity, two more escalator units, increasing the number of air conditioning chiller systems from five to seven, repair of the public address system, and reviving flight information displays at departure and arrival areas.

Technical engineers from CAAP have inspected the new chiller system in Japan, scheduled for delivery and installation by July.

“The inspection is about the equipment. The group is composed of engineers coming from Iloilo [and] Manila. They went to Japan to inspect the equipment before delivering them here,” Monserate said.

Monserate emphasized the necessity of upgrading the Iloilo Airport, noting that many facilities were installed in 2005, two years before its official commissioning in 2007, replacing the now-defunct Mandurriao Airport.

Regarding the return of international flights, Monserate stated that proposals must come from airline companies, as CAAP is merely the airport operator.

The Kalibo Airport, the region’s only airport currently serving international flights, saw improvements in 2021 with the rehabilitation of the passenger terminal building and ramp to increase passenger and plane parking capacity. It serves South Korean low-cost carriers Air Seoul and T’way Air.

Further regional airport enhancements include the San Jose Airport in Antique, which now features a new passenger terminal and administration buildings, a control tower facility, and a ramp with taxiway.

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