By Harold Geronimo
I always believe that first impressions last. This is my philosophy when I travel places. The first thing that I see becomes my impression of what I should expect in that particular place.
In this case, I’m talking about airports. I always believe that the airport is a key indicator of progress. When I visit different cities around the country, I always explore the airport’s amenities and see how clean and modern they are. I’m actually proud to see that some of the major cities in our country now have airports that adhere to international standards. I have excluded the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in this list to give way to the regional aviation hubs.
1. ILOILO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
After almost a decade of planning, Iloilo Airport formally opened its doors two years ago replacing the old Mandurriao Airport. Located 19 kilometers north of Iloilo at a 188-hectare site in Cabatuan and Sta. Barbara towns, the new Iloilo International Airport is one of the most modern and best designed airports in the country today. Its all-glass and steel beam structure with curved roofings resembles that of Hong Kong International Airport at a smaller scale. Leading to the terminal is a 3-kilometer access road with landscaped center islands. The terminal also boasts of pocket gardens similar to other modern airports in the world. It’s still very new and clean, so I hope the government will maintain it really well.
2. NEW BACOLOD-SILAY AIRPORT
As a Negrense, I am proud to see the province finally having a state-of-the-art airport of international standards in my hometown in Silay City. Located 15 kilometers northeast of Bacolod City, the new Bacolod-Silay Airport opened its commercial operations early last year replacing the old Bacolod Domestic Airport. Today, it is the third largest international airport in the Visayas, just next to Cebu and Iloilo International Airports. The 4.3 billion peso airport complex is designed to accommodate 1-million passengers annually. Designed with an all-glass and steel beam structure, the main passenger terminal is equipped with a modern flight information display system comparable to other international airports. It also has a 300-car parking area and a spacious departure lobby.
3. DAVAO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
The busiest airport in Mindanao, known as Francisco Bangoy International Airport, had a major facelift 6 years ago to become one of the most modern international airports in the country today. The Malay-inspired architectural design of the airport terminal speaks about Davao’s cultural heritage. This airport has the most spacious departure lobby outside Metro Manila, with 14 domestic and international check-in counters. The 3-kilometer runway of this airport can accommodate 8-10 aircraft landings per hour and can handle wide-bodied aircraft including the gigantic Airbus 380. For those who want to do last-minute shopping and dining, there are wide choices of food and retail stores inside the terminal.
4. MACTAN-CEBU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Undoubtedly, the airport of the Queen City of the South would make it in the Top 5. Though the terminal is already old, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport still has the unique charm and hospitality that Cebuanos exude. During my last trip to Cebu, I was so amazed that the airport now provides free internet stations to departing passengers. The terminal also has adequate pasalubong shops and restaurants to choose from. There are also spas and massage services available to those who want to relax before flying. I just hope though that the government will soon upgrade the airport’s facilities and amenities to be at par with other modern airports in the country.
5. DIOSDADO MACAPAGAL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
It is surprising to see how this airport has transformed into a premier international aviation hub in just a few years. Situated inside the Clark Special Economic Zone, it is considered to be one of the biggest aviation complexes in Asia with its 3.2-kilometer parallel runways that can accommodate huge aircraft. Today, the airport services major low-cost carriers in Asia such as Tiger Airways and Air Asia. Its terminal may not be as modern as those in this list, but an expansion of the terminal building is underway. If finished, the new terminal may serve up to 4-million passengers annually.
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