The current Iloilo Airport located mainly in the towns of Cabatuan and Sta. Barbara is a significant upgrade to the old one located in the Mandurriao District of the city. Like the old Bacolod Airport, the Mandurriao airport could no longer be expanded considering the requirements for a larger terminal and a longer runway. Planners also had to take into account prospects for further expansion in the future. The location of the airport is quite a curiosity since only the main access road is located in Sta. Barbara town, which comes before Cabatuan when traveling from the city. The terminal and the runway are laid out at Barangay Tiring of Cabatuan town. Since the Bacolod and Iloilo airports were constructed almost at the same time in 2004 and completed one after the other. Iloilo’s was completed a few months ahead of Bacolod’s in 2007 but the former was opened that same year while the latter started operations early in 2008.
Transit time between the airport and Iloilo City is typically 30 to 45 minutes depending on the destination within the city. There is a service road connecting the airport terminal to the Sta. Barbara bypass road national highway. From the airport, taking a right from the access road will bring the traveler towards the city. A left will lead travelers towards Cabatuan and in the general direction of Passi City and Capiz Province in the north.
Following are a few photos of the airport passenger terminal from past trips to the province. There are few as I keep procrastinating about taking more photos given that our home in Cabatuan is a short 20-minute drive from the airport. There are many other photos of the airport as well as the Bacolod-Silay airport that can be found in the internet.
The Iloilo and Bacolod airports are quite similar and the designs address many of the requirements of a modern airport. Both also take into account the typical Filipinos’ penchant for having many well-wishers accompanying the departing travelers to the airport or, for arrivals, fetching relatives and friends. As such, there is adequate space for people at the terminal (though again there seems to be a need for additional benches) and many parking spaces that can accommodate peak demands particularly during the holiday seasons of Holy Week and Christmas. It is easy to get a taxi or shuttle (usually AUVs or vans) from the airport.
The departure area is spacious, with the high ceiling obviously helping out in making passengers comfortable. The terminal is well-lighted, taking advantage of natural lighting, and clean toilets, and, as required by law, smoking rooms.
There are many concessionaires both inside and outside the airport. There are shops selling popular pasalubong like food items (try the pinasugbo, piaya, turrones and biscocho) and crafts (look for items made of hablon, an indigenous weave, or pineapple fiber). There are also eateries and cafes including one by the popular local bakeshop JD. It is never too late to try out a serving of Molo or Batchoy that may be ordered from the eateries.
There are four gates at the departure area that are typically assigned to the airlines servicing the airport including PAL, Ceb Pac and Air Philippines. Passenger demand for the airport is quite high as it also serves as the air transport hub not only for the province but for the towns of neighboring Antique, Capiz and Guimaras provinces. Antique and the island of Guimaras off Iloilo City have no airports, while Roxas City in Capiz has fewer flights. Aklan province is already served by two airports in the capital of Kalibo and the newly upgraded Caticlan that is the gateway to the popular tourist destination of Boracay Island.