A JOINT panel of the House of Representatives has deferred the approval of a proposal to create the Laoag International Airport Authority pending the submission of a 10-year feasibility study by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and other concerned agencies.
This came after Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez, a co-sponsor of House Bill 2024 which seeks to establish the Laoag International Airport Authority, asked the House committees on government enterprises and privatization and on transportation to hold the measure’s approval during the recent joint hearing of the two panels, chaired by North Cotabato Rep. Jesus Sacdalan and Cesar Sarmiento of Catanduanes.
Romualdez sought a feasibility study on HB 2024 after Raul Glorioso, chief of the Aerodrome Development and Management Service of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, reported a downward trend in the volume of passengers at the Laoag International Airport since 2013.
“The volume of passengers from 2013 to 2015 went down. In 2013, the Laoag International Airport handled 232,000 passengers. In 2014, the volume of passengers was 193,000 and 175,000 in 2015,” said Glorioso.
Romualdez inquired what are the indicators to make an international airport viable to become an authority. Glorioso replied that first, there should be a demand.
Glorioso said normally, what happens at the Laoag International Airport is that its revenues go down because the traffic going to Laoag goes down too. This is because of the ease in going to northern parts of Luzon, he added.
Glorioso explained the main problem of airports in Luzon is the land transport, especially with the ongoing development of the Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway. “There are a lot of (land transport) development efforts in Northern Luzon,” said Glorioso.
Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon said last year, the Laoag International Airport had 94 international flights, representing a seat capacity of 15,000. These were chartered flights on China Eastern Airlines.
House Bill 2024 principally authored by Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda R. Marcos seeks to establish a corporate body called the Laoag International Airport Authority to be attached to the Department of Transportation.
Marcos said the Laoag International Airport in Laoag City in Ilocos Norte is the principal airport in Northern Luzon and the perfect gateway of tourists to the northern part of the country.
“The significant growth in the volume of both domestic and international traffic in the country and the accelerated tourism development thrust of the government necessitate an upgrading of the country’s international airport facilities to provide world-class standard of service,” said Marcos.
As could be gleaned from the fast-track development and industrialization of Cebu with the establishment of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority, Marcos said the establishment of the Laoag International Airport Authority would accelerate the growth of the tourism industry in the region and Laoag City and its economic and business activities.
The bill provides that the Authority shall principally undertake the economical, efficient and effective control, management and supervision of the Laoag International Airport in Ilocos Norte.
The Authority may have such branches, agencies or subsidiaries as it may deem proper and necessary.
It shall encourage, promote and develop international and domestic air traffic in the Ilocos and Northern Luzon regions as means of making them a center of international trade and tourism.
The Authority shall also upgrade the services and facilities of the airport and formulate internationally acceptable standards of service in civil aviation.