|Upgraded Jolo Airport to Spur Trade, Investment in Sulu|
JOLO, SULU—Business leaders and government officials here expect the Jolo Airport runway expansion recently completed through a Philippines-U.S. partnership to lead to increased trade and investment in the province.
The runway was extended from 1,200 meters to 1,845 meters and widened from 18 meters to 30 meters, which will allow the facility to accommodate larger-bodied aircraft such as Boeing 737s and Airbus 320s.
The airport upgrade, a key partnership project of the Philippine and U.S. governments, is being implemented by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), and USAID’s Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program, through its Regional Impact Project (RIP) component.
Nonoy Go, president of the Jolo Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that prior to the completion of the project, the old runway could accommodate only 18-seater planes. A single commercial flight currently plies the Zamboanga-Jolo route.
“Now that the airport has been improved, PAL and Cebu Pacific are studying the viability of opening flights from Zamboanga to Jolo, and possibly [direct] flights from Manila to Jolo,” Go said.
He added that the expanded runway is expected to be a major selling point among investors, particularly those involved in the Sulu Archipelago’s expanding mariculture industry.
“Sulu has an abundance of agricultural and sea products,” said Governor Abdusakur Tan, adding that the ability to get these products to market quickly would boost the local economy.
“It helps the peace situation when people are engaged in gainful livelihood,” Governor Tan said.
Usman Agsari, officer-in-charge of the Jolo Airport, said that PAL and Cebu Pacific are conducting feasibility studies of Sulu’s cargo and passenger volume traffic to determine the frequency of their future flights to the island-province, which has a population of more than 840,000.
Jolo Mayor Amir Hussin recalled that the cancellation of larger commercial flights to Jolo in the 1990s had a negative effect on local business.
“The entry of new carriers now will definitely help the economy, particularly if we have direct flights between Jolo and Manila,” Mayor Hussin said.
Published in www.mindanao.com, December 8, 2009;
www.sunstar.com.ph, December 8, 2009;
www.businessmirror.com.ph, December 8, 2009;
www.positivenewsmedia.net, December 8, 2009;
Business Mirror, December 9, 2009;
www.pia.gov.ph, December 9, 2009;
www.dailymirror.ph, December 9, 2009;
Daily Zamboanga Times, December 9, 2009;
Mindanao Times, December 9, 2009;
Zamboanga Times, December 10, 2009;
www.op.gov.ph, December 13, 2009;
www.bayan-natin.blogspot.com, December 14, 2009