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More passengers use Busuanga airport

BUSUANGA, Palawan—The airport in this shipwreck capital of the Philippines posted a significant increase in arriving passengers in the first quarter.

Acting Airport Manager Joselito R. Arzaga said the Francisco B. Reyes Airport, popularly called Busuanga airport on the resort-island of Coron, Palawan, posted an increase of 6,000 arrivals in the first quarter of the year, compared to the same period last year.

The exact number was not immediately available from the local government but he said the daily arrival from the average of eight flights daily was already at 400 passengers, mostly tourists going to the resorts at the Calamian Group of Islands.

The Calamian group includes the islands of Busuanga, Coron, Culion, Calauit, Malcapuya, Banana, Pass and Calumbuyan.

Arzaga said the famous destinations are the Kayangan Lake of Coron Island, the cleanest inland body of water in the country; and the Calauit Island, home of many endangered African animal species. The islands are also the world’s best diving spots, with beautiful coral reefs and sunken World War II Japanese shipwrecks, he said. The increase in visitor arrivals was a sharp improvement from the days following the destruction wrought by Typhoon Yolanda that forced the closure of the airport. “The closure sent a negative signal to visitors,” he said, reducing the arrival rate at only 100 persons per day, and at certain days going high to only as many as 200.

Last year the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) began repair of the small airport’s water system, glass panels and the old terminal building.

This week the DOTC told Arzaga that the rehabilitation and improvement would continue, including the reuse of the old terminal building as the new arrival area, and the current arrival area as additional area for departing passengers.

The airport is classified a “Principal Class 2” airport, or a minor domestic airport. Its size and infrastructure were expanded in 2007 on a $3-million loan from the Korean International Cooperation Agency. It has an 1,200-meter-long runway.

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