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Baguio targets resumption of commercial flights by November

Baguio City local government is looking to resume commercial operations of the Loakan Airport by for the Christmas season, following discussions with top officials in the aviation industry.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong over the weekend said the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is set to spend some P68 million for the rehabilitation of the aviation facility.

“They’re allotting P68 million para don sa rehabilitation ng terminal kaya papaspasan nila ngayon to hit ‘yung November kasi tinanong sakin ni (Transportation) Secretary (Jaime Bautista) kung ano ba ‘yung recommendation ko na magbukas,” he said.

“Sabi ko if we can avail of the Christmas season sana, that would be in the fourth quarter of this year, nagbigay siya agad, ‘Okay, let’s go for November’,” he added.

[They’re allotting P68 million for the rehabilitation of the terminal so they’re fast-tracking it to hit the November [target] because the Secretary asked me for my recommendation when to open the airport operations.

(I said if we can avail of the Christmas season, that would be in the fourth quarter of this year, he said ‘Okay, let’s go for November.)

The rehabilitation will include the improvement of the instrument landing system (ILS), along with the extension of the runway by 100 meters.

“As of now sabi nila [they said] sufficient ‘yung length ng airport (runway) at 1,683 meters to accommodate ‘yung mga turboprop. In fact, tamang-tama  [it can accommodate] yung Q400 na Bombardier. It’s actually an 80-seater,” Magalong said.

Magalong said the rehab work will also address the drainage issues, and remove the obstructions from the airport, with structures along the vicinity set to be demolished.

The mayor said some of the residents have already received two notices to vacate the area, as the Loakan Airport has a 150-meter buffer zone.

Prior to the pandemic, diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. said it would submit an unsolicited proposal to rehabilitate and reopen the Loakan Airport to commercial flights.

Magalong in 2019 urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to shell out P160 million to revive the Loakan Airport.

The mayor then said that PAL Express, a subsidiary of flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), had expressed interest to operate five aircraft at the local airport.

Before joining the DOTr as its secretary, Bautista served as the president and chief operating officer of PAL. —LBG, GMA News