General Santos International Airport
|General Santos International Airport
Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Heneral Santos
|Exterior of General Santos International Airport|
|IATA: GES – ICAO: RPMR|
|Operator||Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines|
|Serves||General Santos City|
|Location||Barangay Fatima, General Santos City|
|Elevation AMSL||154 m / 505 ft|
|Metric tonnes of cargo||8,943(2,009)|
|Statistics from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.|
General Santos International Airport (Filipino: Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Heneral Santos, Cebuano: Tugpahanang Pangkalibutanon sa Heneral Santos, Hiligaynon: Pangkalibutan nga Hulugpaan sang Heneral Santos) (IATA: GES, ICAO: RPMR) is an alternate international airport located in General Santos City, Philippines serving the greater area of SOCCSKSARGEN (Region XII). Situated in Barangay Fatima, the airport is the largest airport in the island of Mindanao and is officially classified an International Airport by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), a government bureau which is responsible in the management and operations of General Santos International Airport and all other airports in the country except regular international airports.
Inaugurated on 6 July 1996 in time to serve the influx of visitors, athletes and participants coming in from different parts of the country who were taking part in the 42nd annual Palarong Pambansa (National Games) that was held in South Cotabato, Sarangani Province and General Santos City (SOCSARGEN) area at that time. Since then, the new airport immediately replaced the old and smaller Buayan Airport in Barangay Buayan, which is now converted into an air station for the use of The Philippine Air Force and renamed it "Rajah Buayan Air Station". Though new, wider and much modern, General Santos International Airport nevertheless retained its old IATA airport code (GES) from the old Buayan Airport.
In 1993, the largest airport in Mindanao was built mainly on a fund granted by the United States Government amounting to USD 47.6 million through its United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Philippine Government, through the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), has co-shared 25% of the total project cost of the airport. It is strategically situated on a 5,994,577-square-meter (599.4577 hectares) plot of high-altitude, government-owned and formerly leased pasture land in Barangay Fatima approximately 14 kilometers away from the central business district of General Santos City. Rumor has it that the construction of the airport was part of a forward strategy of the US Military forces in the Philippine Islands in an, accordingly, apparent attempt to reestablish their presence in Southeast Asia. This allegation came out a few years later after their eviction from their installations at Subic Naval Base, Olongapo City and Clark Air Base, Pampanga in 1992. Both the U.S. and the Philippine governments denied the allegation.
Upon the opening of the new airport in 1996, it has since gotten hold of the record as the biggest airport facility in the island of Mindanao, which has then become a very promising addition to the potential of the city of General Santos in its bid to become a "Boom Town"—which means rapidly developing urban center—as it was indeed dubbed as is during the time. All flights, in small aircraft, to and from Iloilo and Cebu cities by the national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) that were previously operating in the old and smaller Buayan Airport has since then landed and departed in this new and far better airport facility. On the first few weeks of operation of the new airport, PAL has initially deployed its Boeing 737-300 aircraft to serve its special direct flights to and from the capital to serve the travel needs for the on-going Palarong Pambansa sports event being held during the time. As before there were no direct flights going to and from the capital to this city because PAL couldn't utilize its wider body and long range aircraft to safely land and take off in the city's old and smaller Buayan Airport. During then, there were only two options for air travelers to get to Manila by air from General Santos City and vice versa and that there's not much of a choice but to go through the ordeal. One, is to take and wait for a connecting flight to Manila upon arrival in Mactan-Cebu International Airport and second, is to take a tiresome and lengthy 4-hour travel by land to Davao City just to catch a direct flight to Manila.
In a few months time PAL commenced regular thrice weekly direct flights to and from Manila using a bigger and wider Airbus A300-B4 aircraft. Later This became 5 times weekly in November 1996. And four months after its launch, a daily service was in effect in December 1997 while maintaining its existing regular frequencies to and from Iloilo and Cebu cities using smaller Fokker F50 aircraft. The airline's initiative to commence a direct flight to and from the capital has helped pave the way to continually increase not only the air passenger traffic that are coming in and out of city's very own airport but as well as air cargo traffic which is indicative of the city's vibrant tuna export industry and fast growing economy in general. However, PAL's financial difficulties in the late 90s forced the halting of its Iloilo and Cebu routes out of General Santos International Airport in 1998, leaving PAL with only its single daily frequency to and from Manila to operate in the airport. In 1997, Air Philippines (now Airphil Express) commenced its daily Manila–Gen.Santos-Manila flight using Boeing 737-200 and McDonnell Douglas MD-88 aircraft.
The first international chartered flight to land in General Santos International Airport was of former President Fidel V. Ramos' homecoming from one of his state visits abroad in the mid 90s. Aboard PAL's Airbus A340 aircraft, the president and his party landed in General Santos International Airport directly from Bangkok. In November 2003, international flights to and from Manado, Indonesia were also briefly operational on a regular weekly frequency to this city by an Indonesian carrier Merpati Nusantara Airlines using Fokker F70 aircraft. PAL has also disclosed plans of commencing international flights to and from General Santos City in the late 90s.
Cebu Pacific, currently the country's largest carrier, finally commenced daily flights to and from Manila on October 2, 2006, initially deploying Airbus A319 aircraft. This was later upgraded to Airbus A320 and is being used up till the present time.
Having a runway length of 3,227 meters and a runway width of 45 meters, General Santos International Airport has the country's third longest runway—to date—after Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Cebu. It is the first airport in Mindanao to have accommodated the landing and take off of Boeing 747 aircraft. The airport is also capable of handling landings and take-offs of even larger aircraft such as Airbus A380.
Airlines and destinations
|Cebu Pacific||Iloilo, Cebu, Manila|
|Philippine Airlines||Iloilo (ends May 31, 2013), Manila|
operated by PAL Express
|Cebu (ends May 30, 2013), Iloilo (begins May 31, 2013)|
General Santos International Airport has a single 3,227-meter lighted runway designated as runways 17/35. Made entirely of reinforced concrete and macadam, the airport's runway is the third-longest runway in the Philippines, after Runway 06/24 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Runway 04/22 of Mactan-Cebu International Airport respectively.
Terminal Building facilities
- Airport security check point (entry gate)
- Airport x-ray machines and metal scanners
- Check-in lobby
- Philippine Airlines Ticketing Office
- Cebu Pacific Air Ticketing Office
- Airphil Express Ticketing Office
- Elevator at the check-in lobby
- The Mabuhay Lounge by Philippine Airlines
- Air conditioned pre-departure lounge
- V.I.P. Lounge
- Comfort rooms
- Arrival hall
- One baggage conveyor at the arrival hall
- Cafe Leticia Restaurant at the second floor (air conditioned)
- Specialty Stores (located at the second floor lobby, at the departure lobby and pre-departure lounge in the ground floor)
- Fresh Tuna products sold (concession building adjacent to the terminal building)
- Covered well wishers area (adjacent to the terminal building)
- Car parking
Access and transportation
General Santos International Airport is approximately 14 kilometers away from the central business district of General Santos City. A concrete 6-kilometer Philippine-American Friendship Road connects the airport to the Pan Philippine Highway leading to the city proper as well as to the nearby provinces.
Air-conditioned taxicabs and rent-a-car services are readily available at the airport's taxi and bus stand right outside the arrival area of the terminal building. Public utility jeepneys/mini cabs provide regular direct shuttle service from the airport to the city's central business district at a minimum fare of PHP 50 per passenger. Major hotels and hospitality centers in the city and elsewhere in the region have their individual shuttle service and assistance provided at the airport's taxi and bus stand.
- "Passenger Statistics 2009". May 14, 2010. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
- News, Philippine Information Agency, retrieved August 5, 2010
- Airport Information, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, retrieved August 5, 2010
- Airport information for RPMR (current airport in Brgy. Fatima) at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.Source: DAFIF.
- Airport information for RPMR (current airport in Brgy. Fatima) at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective Oct. 2006).
- Accident history for GES/RPMB (former airport in Brgy. Buayan) at Aviation Safety Network