Bohol's Chocolate Hills make it a popular tourist destination in the Philippines

New airport for disaster area in Philippines

The Philippines will build a $172m international airport in an area still recovering from earthquake and typhoon damage.

Construction is due to start in March and is expected to be completed in mid-2016. With a single runway, the airport will be equipped with four aerobridges and have a passenger handling capacity of 10 million a year through to 2030.

It will be named Panglao International Airport (PIA) and will replace the existing facility in the provincial capital, Tagbilaran, one and a half hours by air from Manila. The plan to build PIA was conceived in 1991 but was approved by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines only in September 2012.

The project will be partially funded by a soft loan from an unidentified Japanese investor and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in Manila.

Julianto Bucayan Jr., Undersecretary of DOTC projects implementation and special concerns, said that while PIA is being constructed a second apron at Tagbilaran Airport will be built to ease congestion.

Bohol is located in central Visayas region of the Philippines and is a popular tourist destination, known for its Chocolate Hills geological formation – a rolling terrain of somewhere around 1,500 uniformly-shaped conical hills, mostly between 30-50m high. They are covered with grass and during the dry season turn chocolate brown, hence their name.

On 5 October 2013, Bohol was struck by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. With power already scarce as the supply lines from the Tongonan geothermal power plant in Leyte province were destroyed, Bohol was dealt a second blow when super typhoon Haiyan pounded it three weeks later on 8 November.

Some commentators have questioned the government’s decision to build PIA instead of utilising the funds to restore power lines and rebuild infrastructure.

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