BAGUIO CITY – An executive of one of the low cost carriers in the country expressed that the Loakan airport will only be capable of serving the flight requirements of small aircrafts serving domestic flights once it will undergo the needed upgrading.
AirAsia’s Chief Executive Officer Capt. Dexter Comendador said there is a need to extend the airport’s runway to as much as 400 meters to be able to cater to the requirements of bigger planes that will soon service the Baguio route.
Aside from extending the airport’s runway, Comendador suggested that for the Loakan airport to qualify servicing the requirements of international flights such as their Airbus 320s, then the runway must also be widened by as much as 150 meters on both sides which is unlikely because of the numerous residences that will be affected once the plan will push through.
The AirAsia executive disclosed one of the possible ways to extend the runway is to build a tunnel along the Loakan road where motor vehicles will traverse while the surface of the road from the end of the runway will be extended up to the ridge on the left side of the road which could be the cheapest way of extending the runway.
It can be recalled that in 2009 commercial flights servicing the Manila-Baguio-Manila route stopped their regular flights to and from the city following the alleged unpredictable weather conditions in the city, which tended to affect the regularity of the flights and the extreme danger posed by the absence of appropriate instrument landing equipment to guide the pilots in facilitating the landing of their aircrafts in the airport.
Comendador explained the best that the Loakan airport could serve will be domestic flights once the needed extension of the runway and the upgrading of its available instrument landing equipment will be put in place to cater to the requirements of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
Earlier, the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera approved a resolution requesting concerned government agencies to implement the needed airport upgrading for it to operate and accommodate commercial flights to help sustain the increasing tourist arrivals not only in the city but also in the Cordilleras, considering that Baguio City is the gateway to the different tourist destinations around the region.
Based on the RDC-CAR’s feasibility study, more than P402 million is needed to implement the desired facility upgrades to comply with the prescribed standards enforced by the CAAP.
Comendador expressed optimism on the bright prospects of the Loakan airport even if it will operate as a domestic airport because of the increasing number of foreign and domestic visitors wanting to visit the different tourist destinations in Baguio and the different parts of the Cordillera, primarily because of the unique weather condition coupled with the scenic spots.
Currently the airport’s runway is approximately 1.6 kilometers long which is considered short by aviation experts, which is why the aircrafts that it could accommodate is limited to small commercial and chartered planes.
By Dexter A. See