Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy yesterday offered to let his town host the Mactan international airport since Lapu-Lapu City can no longer accommodate the expansion of the facility.
His offer surprised government stakeholders and representatives of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) who attended the presentation of the master plan for the airport’s expansion.
The Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) presented the master plan.
Engineer Nigel Paul Villarete, MCIAA general manager, however, said the proposal would be made an option for the expansion of the international airport.
“We willl leave it to the political leaders and the decision makers on the national board to decide on the matter,” Villarete said.
Koica presented a P1.3 million grant to conduct a feasibility study for the expansion of the MCIA.
The study began last September and would end by December this year.
The study will be used as a proposal for possible investors through Private Public Partnership.
Villarete said the Department of Transportation and Communication and the MCIAA board would coordinate with the private sector in funding the project.
The first phase of the project, which requires at least P5 billion with a target project completion by 2015, would include the construction of a new terminal building with one international terminal with additional parking area, passenger and cargo terminal, and one runway.
Villarete said the airport has a maximum capacity of five million passengers, but last year, it exceeded to 5.4 million.
“If we had done the expansion five years ago, this problem could have been prevented,” he said.
Based on the air traffic demand forecast conducted by Koica, the domestic passengers would increase from 3,841,990 passengers last 2009 to 6,260,047 by 2015.
The international passenger forecast would increase from 920,000 last 2009 to 1,472,301 by 2015.
Meanwhile, Sitoy cited the benefits of moving the airport to Cordova town—no tax suits and lesser traffic in Lapu-Lapu City.
“In Cordova we can give you immunity from lawsuits,” Sitoy said.
Sitoy was referring to the cases filed by Lapu-Lapu City against the MCIAA which has refused to pay P1.3 billion in real property taxes.
He also said that questionable land claims of other individuals over the airport would also hinder the progress of the airport’s expansion.
“The expansion of this airport in Lapu-Lapu City is impossible because it is heavily litigated,” Sitoy said to the crowd during the open forum.
Sitoy said the airport could be constructed on the 3,500-hectare area that is to be reclaimed in Cordova town.
He said a new road to link the town to Cebu City could be put up, which could lessen the traffic in Lapu-Lapu City.
He said if the airport would be moved, then the current lot occupied by the airport could be converted into a business park with high-rise buildings.
“This can be realized in the next 20 years,” Sitoy said.
Sitoy claimed that he discussed the idea with Lapu-Lapu Rep. Arturo Radaza, whom he claimed had agreed with the proposal.
Rep. Tomas Osmeña, (Cebu City south district), who attended the presentation of the master plan expressed his support to Sitoy’s proposal.
“It’s not only possible, it’s ideal. It’s the only way to go in the future,” Osmeña said.
Osmeña said the master plan didn’t consider the traffic in the airport, which could be lessened if this would be moved to Cordova.
Osmeña even promised to gather investment bankers who could fund the project.
Osmeña said the reclamation project in Cordova would be easier compared to the reclamation of South Road Properties (SRP), which he initiated when he was still Cebu city’s mayor.
“Having more experience on reclamation projects, I say that it’s very very feasible,” Osmeña said.
Sitoy also cited the pending proposal of Rep. Rachel del Mar (Cebu City north district) in Congress to conduct a study to build a 500-meter underground road from Cordova to Cebu City. /By Candeze R. Mongaya, Reporter