Saturday, 26 September 2009

Laguindingan Airport Update

By Mike Banos

The Department of Transportation and Communication is considering Laguindingan Airport for future international traffic following the expected upswing in international tourists come 2011.

Doroteo A. Reyes II, Undersecretary for civil aviation, said the DOTC is looking at Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Davao and Cagayan de Oro (Laguindingan) airports to pick up the slack for the anticipated growth in air passenger traffic, especially from abroad.

“Ang problema lang natin, maski matapos ang airport na ito in 2011, the demand for exchanges of passengers will be very great,” Reyes noted following a site inspection of the Laguindingan Airport Development Project (LADP) July 3. “The next problem is tourism that’s why right now, the DOTC is in tandem with the Department of Tourism (DOT) to bring about more passengers to this airport.”

The Regional Project Monitoring Committee of the Regional Development Council for Region X (RDC-X) reported that as of June 30, 2009, LADP is 47.92% accomplished, or around 10.26% ahead of schedule. In fact, the next meeting of the RDC-X has been scheduled at the Laguindingan Airport administrative building this September.

Reyes revealed that this early, the DOTC is already evaluating other points in the Philippines where international flights can be directed to decongest the present gateways in Metro Manila and Cebu.

During the 76th meeting of the Regional Development Council of Region X (RDC-X) held November 16, 2007, Tourism Secretary Ace Durano committed to arrange direct flights from emerging tourist markets like Russia and China as soon as the Laguindingan Airport is commissioned for international flights.

Officially, NAIA is the only airport serving the Metro Manila area although both NAIA and Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) at the Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City, Pampanga serve the metropolis.

From the 72nd busiest airport in the world in 2006 with 17.7 million passengers, NAIA rose to 59th with 20.5 million passengers in 2007. In 2008, NAIA handled just under 22.3 million passengers. DMIA showed a similar increasing trend in its international passenger arrivals from January-May 2009 with a 21% increase to 251,719, records at the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) Corporate Planning Department show.

Tourist arrivals in the Philippines rose by 1.5 percent to a record 3.14 million in 2008, the Tourism Department said recently.

It attributed the rise partly to a big increase in arrivals from European markets such as Russia (+34%), and France (+18.7%) and the opening of chartered flights from four points in China (Shanghai, Nanning, Guangzhou and Kunming) and two in Taiwan (Taipei and Kaohsiung). South Korea topped the number of arrivals with 611,629 in 2008 (+19.48%) followed by the US 578,246 arrivals (+18.4%).

Air travel within the Philippines was the third fastest growing market in the world in 2007 after India and Mexico. India’s domestic market grew 33%, followed by Mexico at 27%, Philippines at 23%, and China at 16%. The Philippines domestic air travel market grew with almost 10.4 million travelers in 2007 versus almost 8.5 million in 2006.

The Laguindingan Airport was originally conceived as the anchor project of the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Corridor (CIC) to eventually replace the Cagayan de Oro (Lumbia) Trunkline Airport. The latter’s high elevation and terrain constraints precluded all-weather operations and the use of higher capacity wide-body aircraft needed to service the growing domestic passenger traffic to and from Northern Mindanao (including Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte).

Comparative data from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) show air passenger traffic through the Cagayan de Oro (Lumbia) Airport growing by a hefty 66% from 544, 936 in 2004 to 902,671 in 2008 despite the same approximate number of flights.

This was attributed to the fielding of the Airbus A320 and A319 aircraft by Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) which enabled the competing carriers to move more passengers with lesser flights.

For the first quarter of 2009, air passenger traffic at Lumbia increased 32,901 or by 16% over the same period in 2008 to 242,731. The number of flights also increased 188 (+10%) after both PAL and CEB increased flight frequencies to accommodate the increasing passenger traffic.

Although growth in air cargo throughput was relatively flat over the period, this was attributed more to the present composition of outgoing air cargo (consisting mostly of fruits and vegetables) which are highly dependent on the effects of weather on Northern Luzon and Metro Manila.

“Civil aviation is the theme of every thought of the day,” Reyes said. “It must grow and there is no stopping. That’s why we have to continue improving our airports.”

Budget constraints have limited the first phase of the LADP to a 2.1 kilometer runway, though Reyes assured this is already big enough to accommodate the 302-passenger Airbus A330-300.

“Once we expand this runway to 2.5 or 3 kilometers we can already accommodate larger aircraft like the Boeing 747 due to the excellent approach from both east and west which will enable big aircraft to maximize the runway,” Reyes added.

The runway extension was endorsed by the RDC-X November 27, 2008 through Resolution No. 67.

The first phase of the LADP will only develop 153 of its total area of 393 hectares, with provisions for future expansion, said LADP project manager Della Capicenio.

“As promised to the President, we will be completing the runway and the major buildings by March 2010,” Capicenio said. Runway concreting is scheduled after the rainy season later this year, she added. A four-lane concrete access road links the LADP to the Iligan-Cagayan-Bukidnon Road (ICBR).

The Php7.853-billion LADP can handle all-weather and night landing operations with its Instrument Landing System (ILS), VOR/DME, Meteorological Observing System, Precision Approach Lighting System and Precision Approach Path Indicators.

Its apron can handle two wide body and three light aircraft at any one time and two air bridges would whisk arriving commercial passengers straight to the 7,184 sq.m. terminal building without exposing them to the weather. The terminal building has an annual capacity of 1.2 million passengers while its parking area can accommodate 240 vehicles.

For its part, The Regional Development Council through NEDA, Region 10 (RDC/NEDA-10) and the province of Misamis Oriental has pushed for the soonest implementation of the development works to accommodate the expected passenger traffic, especially from abroad.

The ICBR is being rehabilitated and expanded including the Sayre Highway (Bukidnon-Davao Road) and construction has started for coastal and mountain bypass roads, with the assistance of the Dept. of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The LGU will be constructing the all-new Misamis Oriental Provincial Hospital-Alubijid just a few kilometers from the LADP before the end of the year.

“We are ready,” said Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno. (RMB with a report from Joe Felicilda)

- 30 -


The construction of Laguindingan Airport is on-going and is rescheuled to be completed by the third quarter of 2011, based on the instructions of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. PMO revised the construction schedule and vital facilities of the airport such as runway, taxiway, passenger terminal building, control tower building and other key facilities are now targeted to be completed by 2010. The airport development project, approved by the National Economic and Development Authority - Investment Coordinating Committee (NEDA-ICC) will cost about PhP 7.85 billion with funding sources from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) of the Republic of Korea, KEXIM Bank, and the Philippine Government. The over-all progress status of the project is over 45% as of June 2009. On the other hand, access roads are already 100% complete.


No comments:

Post a Comment