#MINDANAO: The airports that inspire

Published October 15, 2021, 4:34 PM

by John Tria

Local aviation enthusiasts were all eyes on the newly opened and very scenic Bicol International Airport last week, seeing it as the result of years of preparation finally fulfilled.

This follows that of the Biliran, Siquijor, Camiguin, Kalibo, Catarman and Calbayog airports and even the New Clark International airport has been completed.

Equally enthused were Mindanaoans with the recent upgrading of two of the islands international airports, namely Zamboanga and General Santos. Likewise upgraded a few years back was the Butuan airport which is now night rated and can receive evening flights. The DOTR deserves my commendation on getting these projects completed.

New and improved airports will definitely boost the connectivity of local residents and spur trade, tourism, investments and livelihoods for many.

With improved internet access in many areas, a good number will decide to go home from the often congested Metro Manila to live and work in these places, as they will be more connected, able to communicate online and take that quick business trip when necessary, following health protocols of course.

Now why do airports fascinate many from the south?

The answer is simple. It is for many of us the entry into significant memories in our individual lives, a gateway to the world, and the welcome pad to our regions. They are also major landmarks that have witnessed history pass and unfold. In many of these Mindanao airports one will find a display at the arrival area that in a nutshell, gives you a glimpse, flavor and feel of what to expect in the city or the region you are entering.

To add to the attraction a suggestion therefore is to include, in the pre departure area a display of old photos of the airports and airplanes landing in said cities to give passengers a sense of history over the airport and how it has developed over the years. On social media you will find posted many old photos of such landmarks worthy of display.

As air travel volumes have increased significantly over the last ten years, more and more Filipinos have flown in planes. Likewise, seeing aircraft up close is a treat for many youngsters, flying for the first time and watching the planes take off encourage them to admire technology, understand science and dream big.

With this imagination, inspired by airports, I likewise look ahead and up. I expect the economy to pick up further as the christmas season starts humming. Already, import export volumes are rising despite challenges in logistics (Trade deficit hits $3.58 B in August), and foreign direct investments are up 43.1 percent when compared with the same period last year.

With these positive economic developments, local businesses should plan already for a more expanded recovery year in 2022, and map out their five-year strategies based on how they have adapted to 2021, which I consider to be a transition year to the oft repeated new normal. Consider the new economic reforms and revitalized infrastructure in your plans.

Questions need to be asked, like how much work from home will be needed? Will we need a new set of suppliers that can also adapt to the new normal? What skills do my employees need to learn? Do we need to calibrate our product and service offerings to meet new needs? Of course. Entrepreneurs and the business leaders need to be warriors frequently evaluating the terrain where they operate and intend to grow their businesses. It is better to plan ahead, prepare, prepare, prepare.

Continue to stay safe everyone!