The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is doing a survey of the Loakan airport to look at the possibility of doing some modifications to make it a viable facility for regular air travel.
National Economic Development Authority Cordillera (NEDA-CAR) Regional Director Milagros Rimando said the surveyors arrived in Baguio last May 28 and will stay in the city for at least two weeks to finish the survey.
The team of surveyors from CAAP will conduct aerial and land survey, which is a vital process that must be done first before pursuing any development.
The development of the Loakan airport was included by the Regional Development Council in its 2018 Regional Infrastructure Development Projects (RIDP), as among the priority programs of the region.
In 2012, a feasibility study conducted on the airport and the NEDA-CAR, together with RDC, has been advocating for the modification of Loakan airport, which starts with the survey of the ground facility.
Rimando said since they started advocating for the modification of the Loakan airport, airline companies and some foreign brokers have been presenting project proposals and showing interest in the development of the airport.
“We’ve been talking to several clients including those who visited us in the office and they showed us good proposals and interest of helping us develop Loakan airport,” she explained.
The Loakan airport is the region’s only airport which was built in 1934. Prior to the 1990 earthquake, commercial planes use to service the city but stopped after the devastation of the killer earthquake. It was later assessed that the runway is short with various issues such as the runway being used by residents on the other side of the runway and the natural weather condition in the area frequently affecting flights.
“Its short runway, frequent low visibility and dilapidated structures along with deep ravines on both ends of the runway continue to be the challenges faced by commercial airline operators.”
Rimando relayed that Loakan airport is classified as Class 2 or minor domestic airport by the CAAP. “We’ve been requesting the previous CAAP director to send his team of experts for the survey however they showed little interest,” she lamented, adding, “but we are now happy that the new director has replied to our request by sending his team,” Rimando said.
She said “we’re hoping that the survey result will favor us.”
The director also pointed out that NEDA-CAR will also schedule several meeting with clients who previously showed interest to pursue the modification of the airport through Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
If the result of the survey shows that there are no other ways for Loakan airport to accommodate bigger planes of big companies, she said that they will find for smaller players as PPP partners.
The modification plans of the Loakan Airport include the construction of a new terminal and the relocation of the old structure.
They will also prioritize the upgrading of the navigational aids that will allow planes to land and fly even on a foggy day. Construction of a bypass road is also being eyed to prevent the public from crossing the runway. DIONISIO DENNIS JR. / ABN