THE Philippine Airlines (PAL) is launching a passenger service from Cebu to Baguio City, which has a “challenging airport” that authorities have approved.
PAL said in a statement that it would launch four-times-weekly commercial flights on December 16, from Cebu to Baguio using De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Dash 8-400s with a capacity of more or less 85 passengers. These flights will be on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
PAL management said the Cebu-Baguio flight will be leaving the Mactan Cebu International Airport at around 8:50 a.m. and will be arriving at the Loakan airport at around 10:50 a.m. on the said days. The Baguio-Cebu flight meanwhile will be leaving the Loakan airport at around 11:10 a.m. and will be arriving at the Mactan Cebu International Airport at around 1:00 p.m.
The city government of Baguio said in a statement in early October that the airport for more than a decade has only been used by the military and for commercial charters.
Baguio Airport, also known as Loakan Airport, has been closed until now to scheduled commercial flights because it is reportedly difficult to land on during bad weather.
This runway is only 1,802m-long and is perched on a mountain surrounded by deep ravines and tall mountains.
Operations for commercial flights in the airport were previously stopped in 2009 after airline operators raised safety issues and the absence of sufficient landing instruments to guide pilots.
Confronted with safety and technical issues, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said in a statement that it has allocated money for the upgrading of the passenger terminal, lengthening the runway by 100 meters, and upgrading the instrument landing system.
It announced that with this the airport will be ready for the projected resumption of air travel by December 16, being around 90 percent done by now.
CAAP airport manager Engr. Rosito Tamayo, Jr. disclosed that most of the recommendations of the technical personnel of the Philippine Air Lines who visited the city to assess the status of the Loakan airport have already been addressed.
Installation and re-calibration of the precision accuracy path lights along the runway are being worked on. Vegetation at the airport has been cleared and the local government will be pruning trees identified as potential obstructions for aircrafts flying over in landing and taking off operations.
He also called on barangay officials to remind their constituents not to allow stray animals to loiter around the vicinity of the airport that may compromise the safety of the aircrafts arriving and leaving the airport.
Tamayo said that CAAP is also working out the organization of an airport emergency group composed of government and private emergency responders to be able to effectively and efficiently respond to emergencies that may happen in the airport.
He added that long-term solutions on obstructions caused by structures will have to be agreed upon by CAAP and the local government.
Tamayo informed local officials that the problems of obstructions caused by structures is a common problem among airports that were constructed before 2008 or the effectivity of the law that created the CAAP which is why airports that were built after 2008 are the ones that are compliant with the limitations imposed on structures constructed within their vicinity.
Tamayo briefed city officials led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong on the current status of the Loakan airport and the various activities that will be undertaken in preparation for the resumption of flights next month. – with reports from Dexter A. See