Iloilo Airport’s Crisis: A Demand for Immediate Change

Iloilo Airport’s Crisis: A Demand for Immediate Change

The Iloilo Airport, a vital hub in Western Visayas, is at a critical juncture. The Regional Development Council 6-Infrastructure Development Committee’s call for a complete change in leadership underscores the severity of issues plaguing this key infrastructure. Once celebrated as the Philippines’ fifth busiest airport, it now confronts operational shortcomings that threaten to hamper the region’s growth.

The noticeable absence of the CAAP Area 6 acting area manager and the Iloilo Airport manager from an essential Infrastructure Development Committee (IDC) meeting raises concerns about their commitment to tackle the airport’s pressing issues. Broken escalators, insufficient air conditioning, and unclean toilets are clear signs of a broader problem in upkeep and leadership.

These problems extend beyond traveler discomfort; they risk holding back the economic and cultural advancement of an area poised for a bright future, particularly after Iloilo City’s acclaim as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. With the city set to host global culinary enthusiasts, the airport’s dilapidated state could tarnish visitors’ first impressions of a place known for its rich culinary heritage.

A public-private partnership (PPP) is the proposed beacon of hope, suggesting a timely overhaul and a revitalized airport that aligns with the area’s ambitions. This partnership model could bring together the resourcefulness and creativity of private companies with the public’s best interests, a critical union to address current shortcomings.

The urgency of the situation resonates with local businesses and civic leaders. Groups like the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Inc. (PCCI)-Iloilo and the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation, Inc. (ILED) are pushing for prompt actions not only to expand the airport but also to reflect the true spirit of Iloilo. They see the airport as more than a travel hub; it’s the beginning of the vibrant Iloilo experience, especially during its grand festivals, which showcase the city’s energy and culture.

Interior of the passenger terminal at Iloilo International Airport.

My own visits to the airport reflect these shared concerns. The overcrowded check-in area, the neglected state of the restrooms, and the dim arrival zone fall short of representing the city’s grandeur. The airport’s current state doesn’t capture the energy and warmth of Iloilo, particularly during its festive peak times.

The Iloilo Airport is at a pivotal moment. The IDC, together with local authorities and the business community, has made a strong call for prompt and effective action. The airport’s expansion and modernization are critical to maintaining the momentum of the region’s development and ensuring the airport reflects the lively culture of Iloilo. The need for action is clear, and it’s up to both the government and private sector to ensure this opportunity for renewal is seized.

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