(File photo)

MANILA – In a bid to boost air travel, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is investing PHP2.5 billion to upgrade three airports so that they can accommodate more flights and passengers, Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr. said on Sunday.

Under the DOTr’s PHP2.5-billion Aviation Infrastructure Program in the 2023 national budget, Tacloban City Airport, also known as Daniel Romualdez Airport, would receive the bulk of the new funding, or PHP1.42 billion, according to Campos, House appropriations committee vice-chairperson.

Campos said Antique Airport, also known as Evelio Javier Airport, would get PHP500 million, while Laoag International Airport would receive PHP445 million.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines designates Tacloban City Airport as a principal class 1 domestic airport, Laoag International Airport as a secondary/alternate international airport, and Antique Airport as a principal class 2 domestic airport.

Campos said Bukidnon Airport, which is projected to commence commercial operations in 2023, would get PHP80 million, while the Ninoy Aquino International Airport would receive PHP43 million.

“We are all for increased spending to build up our aviation infrastructure across all regions,” Campos said in a news release on Sunday. “There’s no question that airports are powerful generators of economic growth, jobs and income.”

“They facilitate mobility of people and goods, which also benefits consumers and industries, especially micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that now account for 99 percent of the 958,000 registered business establishments in the country,” Campos said.

He said bigger and better airports are also indispensable to the country’s overall disaster readiness.

“They enable us to rapidly deploy emergency first responders as well as relief supplies and equipment to regions hit by typhoons, earthquakes, and other natural calamities,” Campos said.

The Philippines has been tagged as one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, being at the center of a typhoon belt and within the Pacific Ring of Fire frequented by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

Campos said government funding for aviation infrastructure is usually spent to construct, rehabilitate, or improve runways, taxiways and aprons, air traffic control buildings as well as passenger and cargo terminals.

The money is also spent on aircraft refueling facilities, fire and rescue stations, powerhouses, water and sewage systems, and perimeter fencing, among others, Campos said. (PR)