Bagabag airport now open
BAGABAG, Nueva Vizcaya—After 16 years, Bagabag Airport reopened its runway to commercial flights on Wednesday.
A Dornier 328 aircraft owned by Platinum Skies touched down at 10:01 a.m., bringing in an entourage of tourism officials and private individuals who were among the 28 passengers on board.
The maiden flight, which took off from Clark International Airport in Angeles City, was made possible by a partnership between Wakay Air Transport Services, Inc. and Platinum Skies, a carrier owned by former Ilocos Sur governor Luis “Chavit” Singson.
Wakay Air guaranteed a four-days-a-week flight schedule to Bagabag over the next six months. According to Leonardo R. Afan Jr., officer-in-charge of the Civil Aviation Authority, the flight frequency synchronizes with a four-day, three-night packaged tour.
The tours are designed to bring tourists to the famous Banaue Rice Terraces of Ifugao—still about two hours by land from here—and the scenic town of Sagada in Mountain Province.
Flying in from Clark, however, would allow international tourists to bypass the busy Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, which is eight to 10 hours away from Ifugao by land. The Bagabag-Clark flight cuts that travel time in half.
At the airport, the Nueva Vizcaya Tourism Office hung banners featuring other interesting spots and events Bagabag is close to, such as Imugan Falls, St. Vincent Church in Dupax del Sur, the Ammungan Festival every May, and the Capisaan Caves.
One of the first passengers on the flight was Rep. Luisa L. Cuaresma of the lone district of Nueva Vizcaya. She traveled with the delegation from the Department of Tourism.
Governors Carlos Padilla of Nueva Vizcaya and Pedro Mayam-o of Ifugao graced the historic reopening of the airport with Undersecretary Alma Rita R. Jimenez of the Department of Tourism.
They were joined by Bagabag Mayor Johnny Sevillena and other mayors of Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya and Mountain Province towns.
“Business opportunities will multiply after this long-awaited resumption of flights. Ifugao is more aggressive in this move to reopen the airport, and they have been urging us to do something,” Padilla said in his speech during the opening ceremonies.
Andy Fariñas, owner of MM Fariñas Travel and Tours based in Solano, expressed optimism the local tourism industry will get a much-needed boost now that Bagabag is back accommodating commercial flights. “If there’s tourism, there’s business,” he said.
Padilla acknowledged Jerry Cabalze, CEO of Wakay Air, as the person who worked behind the reopening of Bagabag airport.
After the ceremonies, the Department of Tourism personnel proceeded to Banaue, Ifugao to visit the existing tourism facilities there.