Governor Hilario P. Davide III said this is one of the projects that the Capitol is keeping its eye on, along with a similar facility in Camotes Island, another tourism hub in Cebu.
Davide said he would tap experts of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) to appraise the expenses needed for fixing the runway of the Sta. Fe airstrip.
If the cost of the project would be higher than what the Capitol can handle, the governor said they would seek the help of the Department of Transportation and Communication.
The statement came after Sta. Fe Municipal Mayor Jose Esgana was quoted as asking Governor Davide about his plan on the airstrip, particularly its runway.
If he would have his way, Mayor Esgana suggested offeringthe project to interested parties as a Private-Public Partnership project. Esgana said Governor Davide told him “it is not impossible.”
The mayor believes that if the runway project is offered to private companies there would be several takers. He said that as early as 1990, there was already a proposal from Pacific Airways to develop and run the airstrip in a contract of 20 years.
Esgana is pushing for the development of the airstrip as an alternative means of access to the island. One of the town’s RoRo ramps was damaged amidst the onslaught of typhoon Yolanda last November.
The governor’s plan was welcomed by the private sector. In his text message, Allan Monreal, president of Bantayan Island Association of Hotels, Resorts, Bars, and Restaurants, said they needed the project “yesterday”.
Monreal used to work with Air Philippines and held positions in security, safety, ground handling and maintenance. He assessed that the “runway needs repair. The paving is worn out and with debris, danger of Foreign Object Damage, and it needs longer runway to accommodate bigger aircraft. The terminal needs a makeover too.”
He added that an aviation company in Manila wishes to venture to Bantayan by providing scheduled flights. He said he would be handling their operations in Bantayan.
The airstrip was built during the time of former Governor Emilio “Lito” Osmeña in 1998. The Capitol continues to own the facility but encountered technical problems regarding its runway.
The airstrip further caught attention when President Benigno Simeon “PNoy” Aquino visited Bantayan Island and landed his helicopter on the facility. The President himself has been thinking of fueling the tourism industry in the town by addressing its needs like an airport.
Bantayan Island is known for its white beaches. But there is a misconception that one municipality governs the entire island.It is actually composed of three municipalities.
However, the three towns have co-existed to supply the needs of their visitors. Due to its white powdery beaches, Sta. Fe has more beach resorts.
The municipality of Bantayan is more known for its industries and religious festivities during the holy week, while Madridejos is the number one caterer of seafood. Xerxes Alkuino