Baguio prepares to reopen city’s airport

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Baguio landscape skyline

THE Baguio City government is looking to reopen the Loakan Airport for commercial flights by the second quarter of the year, its top official said on Tuesday.

“Before the holiday break ay nag-usap na kami ng CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) and then nagkaroon na kami ng survey sa airport. So kahapon tini-text ko ulit ‘yung deputy head ng CAAP at sinabi niya na magpapadala siya ng isang team for a joint ocular inspection,” Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Low Carbon Transport Forum at Novotel Hotel in Quezon City.

(Before the holiday break, I talked with CAAP, then we had a survey on the airport. So yesterday, I texted the deputy head and I was told that a team will be sent for a joint ocular inspection.)

“I am hoping na sana second quarter ng year na ito ay ma-open na namin (I am hoping that we can re-open the airport in the second quarter of the year),” he said.

He also said Systra Philippines, Inc., a transportation system and infrastructure consulting and design company, had submitted a feasibility study for the planned cable car system in the city.

“After that, i-evaluate namin (we will evaluate), then we will give the original proponent status, then we [will] subject it to Swiss challenge,” he added.

He said two more firms are interested in the project.

As for Baguio City’s airport, which has been closed to commercial flights for more than a decade, he said San Miguel Corp. (SMC) President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang had expressed interest to operate and manage it.

Asked if Mr. Ang has already submitted a formal proposal, he said: “Wala pa, hinihintay pa lang naming matapos namin itong talks namin (None yet, we are waiting to finalize the talks) with the Department of Transportation (DoTr).”

Kung papayagan na kami ng DoTr na i-manage ‘yun, then kami ang maghahanap ng third party,” he added.

(Once DoTr allows us to manage it, then we will look for a third party.)

He said that the city government still has to clear the airport’s buffer zone, which has been occupied by informal settlers.

“For the meantime, pinapadalhan na namin ng notices ‘yung mga tao na nag-occupy ng (we sent notices to those who occupy the) buffer zone,” he said.

SMC is also the proponent of the P734-billion Bulacan airport project, which will be officially called the New Manila International Airport.

The project involves the construction of a 2,400-hectare airport with four parallel runways, which are expandable to six runways, eight taxiways and three passenger terminal buildings. It will have an annual capacity of 100 million travelers, which the government hopes will help decongest Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City. — Arjay L. Balinbin