After 25 years, the airplane passenger tube will be available at GenSan airport

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / July 22) – Once the modernization of General Santos City airport is complete – which is now 96% complete – passengers and crew of commercial aircraft will no longer have to walk in the sun or rain, which they have endured for the past 25 years.

Joel Gavina, director of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines – General Santos City (CAAP-GenSan), which operates the U.S.-funded airport which began operations in 1996, said the rehabilitation includes the construction of a boarding bridge for passengers.

Passengers board a Philippine Airlines plane at General Santos City Airport. MindaNews archive photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

With the upgrade that began in 2017, the airport could also start serving incoming night flights, he said, noting that the airport only serves outgoing night flights.

“The airport’s passenger terminal and navigation equipment have been improved to better serve the public,” he told MindaNews in a telephone interview.

The terminal has undergone a major facelift, with rehabilitation work extending it from 4,000 square meters (m²) to 12,000 m², Gavina said, adding that the upgrades covered the departure and arrival wings.

“You can be proud of the airport facelift,” he said.

According to the list of “Build, Build, Build” projects of the National Economic and Development Authority, the modernization of GenSan airport should be completed in 2021. It was financed by the Appropriation Act general with an amount of 1.096 billion pesos transport and mobility sector.

Considered the gateway to Soccsksargen (Region 12), the new look at GenSan Airport included a design featuring a tuna fin, out of respect for the city’s main product.

GenSan, billed as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines”, is home to six tuna canneries that employ 10,000 workers at full capacity. It also exports fresh ripe large tuna to Japan and the United States, among others. The tuna industry also provides employment for tens of thousands of other people from downstream or ancillary industries.

Gavina said the unveiling of the airport’s new look is slated for next month and President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to honor the event.

The official noted that the modernized two-story airport terminal will accommodate restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops once construction is fully completed.

So far, GenSan Airport serves commercial flights from Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air and AirAsia. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the airport served daily flights to Manila and vice versa. There are also regular flights to Cebu and Iloilo and vice versa.

GenSan Airport was built with a design to accommodate widebody aircraft. The United States provided $ 37.5 million for airport development in the 1990s. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

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