The Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade formally inaugurates the completed development projects in Mindanao’s “key gateway” – the General Santos International Airport, enhancing General Santos City’s prominence as one of the country’s most influential economic centers in the southern part of the country.

Gracing the event with DOTr Secretary Tugade were Gensan Mayor Ronnel C. Rivera, Vice Mayor Ton Acharon and Congresswoman Shirlyn Bañas Nograles. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) group led by CAAP Director General Capt. Jim Sydiongco was also present.

DOTr Sec Art Tugade, CAAP Director General Capt. Jim Sydiongco, Gensan Mayor Ronnel Rivera, Vice Mayor Toton Acharon, Congresswoman Shirlyn Banas and other officials lead the unveiling ceremonies for the inauguration of the General Santos Airport at the tarmac

The General Santos Airport, a Principal Class 1 airport, is located in Uhaw, Barangay Fatima, General Santos City, on a 599.46-hectare plot of land. It features a 3.227meter by 45meter runway, a 153meter by 522meter apron, and seven parking spaces!

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte sent a message commemorating the historic anniversary, praising the project’s successful completion despite the country’s present health and economic crises.

“I commend the Department of Transportation (DOTr), under the leadership of Secretary Arthur Tugade, together with the local government and all stakeholders, for completing this project even amidst the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic. The rehabilitation and expansion of the airport’s Passenger Terminal Building, among others, will truly boost General Santos’ role as an agri-industrial and ecotourism hub,” the President said in a recorded video message.

Despite the raging COVID-19 outbreak, Secretary Tugade stressed the importance of continuing to implement critical transportation infrastructure projects across the country during the ceremony.

“Tayo sa Departamento ng Transportasyon, may pandemya man o wala, itutuloy ang mga proyekto sa ubod ng aming isipan at lakas upang makatutulong sa kabuhayan ng Pilipino,” Secretary Tugade said.

“Hindi ba sa pagkakataon na ito, tayo ay gumawa, para pagtapos ng pandemya, ‘yang ginawang imprastraktura ay gagana at magagamit para sa kapakanan ng sambayanan,” Secretary Tugade stressed.

DOTr Secretary Art Tugade flanked by Vice Mayor Toton Acharon, Mayor Ronnel Rivera on the left and Congresswoman Shirlyn Banas Nogares with CAAP Director Capt. Jim Sydiongco.

Among the projects that CAAP and DOTr completed at the airport are:

  • the P434,291,656.59 rehabilitation and expansion of the passenger terminal building completed on September 22, 2021;
  • the P107,221,487.40 procurement and installation of navigational aids completed on July 25, 2021; and
  • the P23,426,321.43 construction of the CAAP administration building completed on October 5, 2020.

During the construction of the airport, these development initiatives were able to employ approximately 380 people.

CAAP also finished:

  • replacing floor tiles in the PTB’s check-in and arrival sections,
  • installing a cable tray, and
  • repainting the PTB’s walls, ceiling, and roof.

Projects to continually improve and expand the Gensan Airport are currently underway, including:

  • the P91,888,888 upgrade of the airport’s power system, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2021; and
  • the improvement and construction of its facilities, which is expected to be completed by November 18, 2021.

The upgraded General Santos Airport, which can now handle up to 2 million passengers per year, up from 800,000 previously, is seen as bolstering the city’s flourishing economy and providing travelers with convenience and comfort on their route to one of the country’s most important economic hubs.

The author with Gensan Mayor Ronnel Rivera

Indeed, we are opening a wide array of opportunities, not only on the improvement of our infrastructure facility, but also an investment opportunity that will generate more economic activity for the city of General Santos and the whole region,” General Santos City Mayor Ronel Rivera said.

For her part, Congresswoman Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles said, “Despite the pandemic, indeed, there is a silver lining and glimmers of hope with what’s going on now. We hope to see future developments for the General Santos City, and of course the entire SOCCSKSARGEN.”