By Cheryl A. Galili and Aries A. Abuque

PUERTO PRINCESA will soon have an international airport, according to 2nd Palawan District Rep. Abraham Kahlil B. Mitra.

Mitra disclosed that the Puerto Princesa City Airport, which is now undergoing much-needed facelift and improvement under funds from the national government, is getting additional help from the Korean government to complete the P3.4 billion it needs.

The development project includes the widening of the runway strip, construction of a new passenger terminal, new cargo terminal, administration building, operation and security fences, upgrading of navigational aides, and airport tower control and communications for the safety of airplanes and passengers. It is under the Medium-Term Development Plan 2004-2010.

It was Mitra who initiated the start of the airport development project when he met with the Korean government through the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) last year.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) then conducted initial consultations with a Korean financing institution, which expressed interest to fund the project.

Next step was the DOTC and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) working together to formally present the proposal for funding for the PPC Airport official development assistance loan of Korean Exim’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund (KEEDC) on February 2, 2009.

“We’re hoping that by November, there will be a groundbreaking ceremony here and this through the support of the national government and Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn,” he disclosed, adding there will no longer be any hindrance why the project will not be accomplished as it was already the DOTC that assured them.

“We’ve been working hard for this, and this has been approved by the European Investment Bank last time. But it did not push through because of some problems in the DOTC. But now, it’s going to happen,” he said.

The investment team will arrive in Puerto Princesa this month to conduct inspections. The groundbreaking ceremony, on the other hand, is scheduled in November.