The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the local government of Baguio City are mapping out plans for the reopening of the Loakan Airport to boost the city’s tourism industry.
CAAP officials led by acting director general Capt. Manuel Antonio Tamayo on Wednesday met with Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Philippine Airlines president and chief officer Stanley Ng, and representatives from the city tourism office to discuss the launching of commercial flights between Loakan and Mactan, Cebu.
The CAAP has allocated funds for the rehabilitation of the Loakan airport’s passenger terminal building, to include the improvement of its instrument landing system (ILS) and runway extension by 100 meters.
Local officials said the CAAP will shoulder the expenses for the overall improvement of the facilities of the airport and the procurement of the required aviation equipment.
The CAAP and the Baguio City government expect to resume the airport’s operations by the end of the year. PAL will conduct the test flights prior to the resumption of full commercial operations.
“We are ready for the resumption before the end of the year, but it is up to the local government when will be the exact date,” said CAAP chief information officer Eric Apolonio.
According to Apolonio, year 2012 was the last flight operation of commercial aircraft Sky Pasada at the airport but it never closed for general aviation.
Built in 1934, the Loakan Airport served domestic flights until the July 1990 earthquake. Presently, the airport only services chartered and military flights on demand. “The runway was closed due to construction of drainage system implemented by Department of Public Works and Highways. It was closed for fixed wing aircraft but okay for rotary,” said Apolonio.
The government is hoping the resumption of flights in and out of the city will play a key role in convincing high-end tourists to prioritize Baguio City as one of their preferred destinations that will help in speeding up the revival of the local tourism industry which is one of the city’s economic drivers.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25, made a promise to upgrade airports and create more international airports to boost the tourism industry in the Philippines. Joel E. Zurbano