The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is set to start the operation of the P7.8-billion New Bohol International Airport in August next year.

The DOTr together with National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) successfully conducted the first test flight in the fully-paved runway of the airport in Panglao recently.

Arthur Tugade, DOTr secretary, said the airport is on track for completion by June 2018 and will start commercial operations by August.

The construction of the airport followed a 24/7 schedule. The airport is now 53.38 percent complete.

Currently, 1,800 meters out of the total 2,500 meters of the runway have been fully-paved. An additional 300 meters will be added to extend the runway to 2,800 meters after the operationalization of the airport.

The runway was designed to accommodate seven aircraft , including large aircraft for international flights, at one time.

The feasibility study, land acquisition activities and detailed engineering design were completed in 2007 but a bidding in 2010 failed due to lack of funding. The government then moved to implement the project under a public private partnership (PPP).

Construction began in 2015 under the Japanese Airport Consultants (JAC) and Chiyoda-Mitsubishi Joint Venture.

The P7.8-billion project, with a terminal spanning 13,337 square meters, will serve as the premiere gateway to the province and the thriving tourist destination Panglao.

The airport was designed to be the country’s first eco-airport, a “Green Gateway to the World” which will be held to the highest standards of green and sustainable structures.

The airport will primarily use natural sunlight and air. However, areas where people stay for a longer period of time such as pre-departure sections, control rooms, and offices will be air-conditioned. Solar panels will also be installed on the Passenger Terminal Building roof, which can cover around one-third of the airport’s energy requirement. For additional energy efficiency, all internal lighting fixtures will use LEDs and most lighting switches will be equipped with motion detector control.

The New Bohol Airport is expected to accommodate two million passengers in its opening year alone, a huge jump from the 800,000 passengers currently being accommodated by the Tagbilaran airport.

The project is financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and is one of the projects started during the Aquino administration.