From a certain point of view, it is beginning to feel as if the ongoing renovation of the General Santos City International Airport, specifically its main terminal building, has been going on forever. Those who have spotted the conceptual redesigns for the structure online might feel disappointed that the reconstruction, which began in 2017 and was supposed to finish in June 2019, has not appeared to progress much beyond the stark curving metalwork. Completion dates have changed multiple times, with the latest being May 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic ruined that plan too, and now September is the new tentative deadline.
The Philippine News Agency has it that the local office of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is pegging the long-running renovation of the General Santos City International Airport terminal to be concluded in just over a month’s time. CAAP-GenSan manager Edgardo Cueto remarks in a statement this Tuesday, July 28, that there were only several components left in the terminal facility to be installed by commissioned specialists from Indonesia. Unfortunately, the prevailing travel restrictions brought about by the COVID pandemic has delayed their arrival in the city to finally finish the job.
Among the new facilities that will be part of the new and improved terminal building is the inclusion of a passenger boarding bridge connecting to aircraft doors. This conveyance that is standard for major airports would finally do away with stairway ramps for passengers except during emergencies or when needed for VIPs that will be given arrival honors at the tarmac. Even if the delayed Indonesian workers can arrive soon, they would still be undergoing the 21-day quarantine protocol as mandated by the GenSan LGU. Cueto is hoping that they can arrive before late next month so that final adjustments on the boarding bridge can be completed before September ends.
The long-delayed GenSan Airport terminal renovation, which has a P452 million price tag, was contracted to Vicente T. Lao Construction and C.B. Garay Philwide Builders Inc. since around 2015. While the early COVID-19 community quarantine lockdowns stalled work before the May 2020 “miracle” deadline, it has since resumed at a quick pace on the final stretch, even taking advantage of the travel restrictions to close the airport. Aside from the boarding bridge, the arrival and pre-departure areas have been revamped, water utilities spruced up, navigation tools upgraded, and power plant improved among other welcome changes.
With the boarding bridge yet to wait, CAAP-GenSan chief Cueto estimates that the completion percentage of the new terminal building is around 85-87%, and only that last facility remains to finally make the GSIA a picture-perfect travel hub once more.
Image from Aviation Updates Philippines