Tagbilaran Airport (IATA Code: TAG) is the airport gateway to Tagbilaran City and the province of Bohol in Central Visayas. The airport is classified as a Principal Airport Class 1 by the CAAP, a body of the Department of Transportation and Communications responsible for implementing policies on civil aviation to assure safe, economic and efficient air travel, and the handling of operations on all airports except major international airports. The airport is currently served with daily Manila bound flights of Airphil Express, Cebu Pacific Air, Zest Air and Philippine Airlines and Cebu and Davao bound, Mid-Sea Express. It has one asphalt surface runway with a length of 5,837 feet and 1,779 meters.
|Tagbilaran Airport terminal building.|
|Our plane from Manila - PR175|
I experience to be in the airport when I had my first visit to Tagbilaran, Bohol last Summer 2011 of March.
The Building and Facility
The airport building is two floor small building with no jetways for airplanes to docked with and transfer passengers from the the plane side to airport building side. The 1/4 of the ground floor is dedicated to a small arrival area while the bigger part of the ground floor is dedicated to the departure area. The second floor of the building occupies the management offices and airline ticket offices as well as the annex of departure waiting area for departing passengers before boarding.
The airport can only handle two airplanes on ground at the same time due to limited plane space in the airport. Meaning only two flights, two landings and two departures can only be accommodated on operational time of the airport. This measure of two planes at a time also regulates the flow and influx of passengers to the terminal building due to its limited space as well.
|Welcome to the City of Friendship landmark just outside the airport.|
|Check-in counter of Philippine Airlines at departure area. Credits to Pinoy Photoblogger of flickr.com|
I notice that after deplaning from stairs, a lot of arriving passengers mostly Filipino tourist were starting to take on-ground pictures with the airplanes in the background. Picture taking takes time and on-ground security were instructing the passengers to do it quickly as most aircraft are turnaround flights and boarding is soon for departing passengers that might mix with the arriving passenger and can cause security breaches. I join the photoshoot as this is just an only chance experience to be near an airplane but made one quick shot only as security officers are gesturing the passengers to proceed immediately to the arrival hall.
The arrival area is small. I estimate that it only occupies 1/4 of the ground floor building with one baggage carousel for check-in baggage claim. It is an open area and non air-con facility. The area gets crowded when two arriving flights arrive at consecutive times.
It has one decent and clean restroom and has an easy exit out to the terminal. Upon exit to the terminal premises we were welcome by the city landmark's "The City of Friendship". This is in reference to Datu Sikatuna's Sanduguan or Blood Compact friendship agreement with the Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi during the Spanish rule times.
|Check-in counters at departure area. Credits to Pinoy Photoblogger of flickr.com|
Upon arrival at the terminal we were greeted again by the city landmark. Inside the departure area of the terminal is direct access to check-in counters. Though it is well ventilated, the terminal is hot in afternoon atmosphere with non air-conditioned facility and though it occupies most of the ground space of the terminal it still small for a public air terminal with quite number of flights to serve. The airport has a terminal fee for departing passengers of around 30-35 pesos each.
In the gate area, there is so much crowd waiting for the flight. It was 2 pm and our flight back is around 4:30 pm. Along with our flight is Zest Air and Cebu Pacific Air flight too where there are passengers are also waiting for their departure. The gate area is overcrowded because of this situation and though it has a second floor for waiting passengers, it is still crowded. Even the stairs going up to the second floor is occupied on the sides by the waiting passengers. Me and my travel companions ended up standing while waiting for our flight.
The ground floor also has the restroom and small kiosk shops for souvenir items. This time the area is air-conditioned equipped.
|Tagbilaran City's welcome landmark.|
|Second floor of gate area with waiting passengers.|
After sometime when Cebu Pacific already start boarding, some of the space and seats in the gate were freed. But it was still crowded with two flights waiting for departure. Luckily we found seats to wait and relax before our departure at the second floor area of the gates.
The second floor of the gate area is fully occupied with seats for departing passengers. What I like in the floor are wide windows to view the incoming and outgoing aircraft movement in Tagbilaran Airport. The place is perfect for planespotting! Planespotting is one of my favorite hobbies so I shoot the best plane shots I can get from the windows as some fellow passengers are doing it as well.
|Waiting to go home...|
|Flight PR 178 to Manila - the last flight of the day in Tagbilaran Airport.|
We boarded on-time. As we board and handed our boarding passes to airport ground personnel, we were also serenaded by a band of native and local songs. I think that was a great way to end up my trip in Bohol. And a great way of Boholanos to say "thank you" or "daghang salamat" for visiting their little paradise.
We were again expose to a close encounter with an airplane because of stair boarding. After 10 minutes, the aircraft taxis the ramp, made a turn at the runway and flew at 4:45 pm. It was a smooth flight out of Tagbilaran City.
|Bohol in the air!|
While the terminal of Tagbilaran is enough for the passenger traffic, demand for air travel in Bohol especially with foreign and local visitors demands for terminal expansion. The terminal is small to accommodate the increasing flow of passengers incoming and outgoing to Bohol province. Most of the facilities from arrival to departure to aircraft space is not enough to accommodate the increasing number of passengers everyday. Four airlines with daily and multiple flights crowds the terminal and demands for its expansion for more space.
I think space is also the reason why only two aircraft movements are allowed in Tagbilaran Airport. Aside from limited terminal space, only two aircrafts can accommodate at the terminal's aircraft park. Space is limited to accommodate additional flight at the same time. That's why they limit aircraft landings and departures at the airport.
The gate area is the most crowded part of the airport. It needs expansion for more space since a lot of tourists are visiting Bohol every year. Its kinda shame to let passengers stand or sit in the stairs waiting for their flight because of limited seats in the terminal. There is no need for a Internet wi-fi facility or grand architectural terminal structure. Enough space and seats for passengers is good already for the airport.
Given the priority and funds for expansion by the airport authorities and government bodies, I think improvement is not far thing to happen with Tagbilaran Airport. Also given situations are the increasing demand of visitors to Bohol and its fame as a prime tourist destination in the country that calls for expansion and improvement. But unfortunately as I saw, it is quite difficult and complicated to expand more spaces to the terminal and facility of the airport as it is located in a residential area that limits it for space expansion. But with right planning or relocation like other major provincial airports, who knows? There also news of constructing an airport in Panglao Island to support its growing tourism industry but as of now, no official update and budget is on-going. But until then, Tagbilaran Airport must be prioritize first for improvement and expansion since it is the main gateway of the Bohol province and serves its capital city.
Airport Review is the newest section in Going Places where I gave a comprehensive review and insights to the airports that I have been in my travels. Review ranges from the airport's arrival and departure area, functionality, terminal structure, facility, airport location up to the unique amenities that the airport offers. These airport reviews will give travelers a first-hand experience of what it is to expect inside these airport terminals.