CEZA, Private Firm Sign Deal for Cagayan Airport

The Philippine Star, September 09, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – An international airport will soon rise in Lallo, Cagayan, following the signing of a 50-year joint venture agreement between the government-run Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and private consortium Cagayan Land Property Development Corp. (CLPDC) for the construction of the project at a cost of P1.658 billion.

CEZA is a government-owned and -controlled corporation that develops and manages the 54,000-hectare Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP), an economic and tourism hub in the coastal town of Sta. Ana in Cagayan province. CEZA Administrator and CEO Jose Mari Ponce and CLPDC president Basilio Rodriguez signed the joint venture agreement on Sept. 8. Construction of the project is expected to start within the month and be completed in a year.”Once completed, the CEZA International Airport will complement the Port Irene Seaport, which is emerging as an international transhipment hub and tourism destination in north-eastern part of Luzon,” said Ponce.

As an investment hub, CSEZFP has become the preferred site of 86 foreign and domestic investors, of which 48 were already operational as of December 2008. These companies have committed to invest more than P13 billion.
“An international airport with international facilities and equipment is necessary to make CSEZFP a viable freeport and tourism destination in Asia,” Ponce said.

Data from the Air Transportation Office (ATO) show that there were 2,359 international visitor arrivals in Cagayan via the Tuguegarao City Airport from Macau and China in 2008. Chartered flights bring tourists to CSEZFP via Tuguegarao. Cagayan Valley ranked as the 7th top regional destination for tourists in the country. In 2008, it generated P1.6 billion in tourism receipts from the arrivals of 670,000 visitors, including 32,000 foreign tourists.

Visitor arrivals in 2008 were up by 7.5 percent from around 623,000 tourists in 2007. In particular, the volume of foreign tourists rose by over 20 percent to 32,000 from only 26,000 a year earlier, as CEZA’s marketing campaign paid off.

A joint venture company will also be created and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to manage the construction and operation of the international airport, which will cater to the locators, visitors and tourists in the bustling Freeport and economic zone.

Administrator Ponce cited the need to construct the airport in the vicinity of Barangay San Mariano and Dagupan in Lallo to provide faster connection to the rapidly growing economic hub from the rest of the country and the world.