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DOTr eyes alternative to Baguio’s Loakan airport

By the end of the month, Philippine Airlines will cease its Cebu-Baguio-Cebu operations in the airport due to financial constraints

BAGUIO, Philippines – Loakan Airport, on the outskirts of Baguio City, felt as somber as the cold gray tarmac runway and control tower.

By the end of the month, Philippine Airlines (PAL) will cease its Cebu-Baguio-Cebu route due to financial constraints. Other than the said route, no other regular route uses Loakan Airport, which was classified as a Class 2 or minor domestic airport by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary for Aviation and Airports Enrique Antonio Esquivel III said during a tourist investment forum that they were looking for an alternative site for a longer airport. He said they had secured funding for a feasibility study for the alternative airport either within the city or its environs.

“The best we can do is to continue improving the Baguio airport because, at this time, we are still faced with the challenge of locating a flat area for a new airport,” Esquivel said.

The suspension of the route was due to the unfavorable conditions during the rainy season. The flights were being diverted to Clark International Airport located in Pampanga. Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong also said that the flights attracted fewer passengers.

Before the PAL withdrawal, the CAAP and the DOTr even had grandiose plans for the airport, which was among the oldest in the country. The DOTr announced last April its plans to pour in P250 million for the construction of a multipurpose building and expansion of the vehicle parking area by 2025.

Last December, the DOTr started a P45-million rehabilitation of the Loakan Airport mainly for the repair of the perimeter fence and the construction of a new main gate.

The CAAP also announced this month that they were expanding the passenger terminal building from 650 to 859 square meters, to allow the passenger capacity from 85 to 141 passengers. Aside from that, the CAAP said check-in counters would be built and the passenger traffic would be improved.

After PAL’s announcement, Magalong said that other flight carriers were welcome to open their routes in their city. –

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The article was originally published in Rappler and written by Frank Cimatu.

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