Zamboanga's airport to be transferred in 4-5 years

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The decades-old plan to transfer Zamboanga City’s airport received confirmation from Malacañang over the weekend, saying it is estimated to be completed in 4-5 years.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced this on Saturday, March 3, in a briefing in Zamboanga del Norte.

“The airport will be located 17 kilometers away from the city proper at the project site in Barangay Mercedes,” he said, citing information from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

Roque’s statement came as the DOTr has yet to release the results of its feasibility and master plan study for the Zamboanga International Airport (ZIA) project.

A new location has been proposed for ZIA for decades as the old airport is situated close to the city center, limiting vertical development in the commercial area.

Earlier, Rodrigo Sicat, Zamboanga City’s planning and development coordinator, said a DOTr-commissioned team would be visiting to conduct a geotechnical investigation to complete the feasibility study.

DOTr directed TCGI Engineers to commence the study in March 2017, in the amount of P17.03 million, government bidding documents showed.

The department also instructed the firm to coordinate with the Philippine Air Force to determine whether it would also be fit to transfer the Edwin Andrews Air Base, which is adjacent to the civilian airport.

“The result shall form part of the conclusions and recommendations for future development of [the] new Zamboanga Airport,” the DOTr said in a bid document.

Zamboanga City’s airport is Mindanao’s 3rd busiest airport. It is also the country’s 10th busiest commercial airport, Roque noted.

The airport is being groomed to revive Mindanao’s previous international routes, among them the Zambonga-Sandakan route. It is also a major hub that provides a logistic backbone in the Zamboanga Peninsula and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. –