Aklan Provincial Board opposes international flights at Boracay Airport

By: Joey Marzan - Philippine Daily Inquirer | December 20,2022 - 09:05 AM

KEEP IT DOMESTIC? Boracay Airport, as shown in this undated photo, is a major gateway to the world-famous Boracay Island hosting only domestic flights. Airport operator San Miguel Corp. plans to accept international flights but faces stiff opposition from Aklan provincial officials. —PHOTO FROM BORACAY AIRPORT INSTAGRAM

ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — The provincial board of Aklan has opposed moves to allow the entry of international flights into Boracay Airport in Malay town, the jump-off point to the resort island of Boracay.

According to Aklan’s provincial board members, introducing international flights to Boracay Airport would not only exacerbate the already congested condition of the airport but would also deprive the national government of the much-needed revenues to recoup what it spent for the already-existing Kalibo International Airport (KIA) in the capital town.

Boracay Airport, also known as Godofredo P. Ramos Airport or Caticlan Airport, primarily serves tourists going to the world-famous Boracay Island. From mainland Malay town, it only takes about 30 minutes by boat to reach Boracay.

“The opening of international flights at the Boracay Airport will derail the attainment of the provincial government of Aklan’s long-term plan for the wholistic, balanced, and inclusive growth of its local economy by strengthening the economic activities and the development of tourism within mainland Aklan,” read the provincial board’s Resolution No. 2022-289 which was approved on Dec. 13.

Status quo

As much as possible, the provincial board wanted to retain the status quo, where international tourists bound for Boracay could fly into Aklan via KIA before heading for Malay town, which is 74.5 kilometers from the capital town of Kalibo or about two hours by road.

San Miguel Corp. (SMC), which manages Boracay Airport, recently expressed plans to allow international flights, particularly from Taiwan, to go directly to the airport in Malay.

In a report on Bombo Radyo Kalibo last week, Provincial Board Member Jay Tejada said he was surprised when they were informed by the Bureau of Immigration to prepare for the inaugural flight of Royal Air from Taipei to Boracay Airport.

He said Aklan Gov. Joen Miraflores immediately requested the provincial board to issue a resolution to oppose SMC’s plan.

Economic repercussion

In its press release dated Dec. 14, the provincial board said transforming Boracay Airport into an international airport would have serious adverse repercussions on Aklan’s economy.

Businesses such as hotels, transport services, restaurants, and other tourism-oriented establishments in Kalibo would be deprived of their source of income, especially because they are relying on both domestic and international passengers at KIA, it said.

Data cited by the provincial board indicated that as of Nov. 30, Boracay Airport welcomed 925,741 passenger arrivals with 36 daily domestic flights, while KIA recorded 239,824 domestic and 40,862 international arrivals with eight domestic flights and two international flights daily.

Even before the pandemic, KIA has hosted flights to South Korea from Incheon and Busan international airports and is expected to host flights from Taipei starting on Dec. 29.

The Department of Transportation spent P48.4 million for KIA’s expansion, which was inaugurated and opened to the public in 2021.

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