Loakan Airport Rehabilitation – Gateway to Inclusive Growth, Economic and Tourism Development beyond 5,000 Feet-A A +A
Monday, September 9, 2013
(THIS is part of the position paper submitted by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio to Rep. Nicasio Aliping)
Airports play a vital role in regional development through two conduits – their capacity to move both people and cargo. It’s most salient contribution is the connectivity they provide, which allows a nation’s economy and society to flourish. Similarly, it drives the tourism industry by creating a gateway to international and domestic tourist arrivals, opportunities to host global and international events; usher people to faster access to meetings, conferences and summits, which provide unparalleled opportunities for tourism stakeholders and cities, whilst serving as regional and economic motors.
Airports constitute necessary infrastructure for a wide range of economic activities. It fulfils a crucial social function, often connecting communities to essential services, such as hospitals and other industries and facilities. It provides air transport services through a complex interaction of resources and processes. It also exerts a significant economic impact on surrounding areas and regions, supporting employment, influx of investment, generating prosperity and providing economic stability. Regions served by more than one airport can benefit from competition and choice, enhancing destination competitiveness and management. It also provides indirect benefits through chains of suppliers providing goods and services to cities and municipalities. Incomes earned in these direct and indirect activities generate demand for goods and services in the economy, which further supports job creation in tourism establishments and community growth. Access to other domestic destinations and markets are absolutely essential to businesses taking location decisions. Competitive air transport services enhances business efficiency and productivity byproviding easy access to suppliers and customers, particularly over medium to long distances. Regional accessibility is a key factor for business location and success. Loakan Airport in Baguio is essential to Cordillera’s accessibility, connectivity, social and business integration and regional development through social expansion that is intrinsic to the national government’s vision for inclusive growth.
Loakan airport was instrumental to Baguio’s survival during the 1990 Luzon earthquake. At the time, choppers were the City’s only bridge to food, supplies, and other basic necessities, making recovery possible. The important role of the Loakan Airport in local and national disaster-relief operations during typhoons and calamities cannot be likewise overstated.
The airport aids the trade and industry in the efficient cargo shipment of goods, technology, equipment and other industrial products to the City. In essence, it is the city’s gateway to and from the world including nearby provinces and municipalities. It provides alternative and suitable options for individuals and firms that put a premium on time and speed, especially when road travel just won’t fit the bill.
Commercial flights at Loakan Airport ceased when Philippine Airlines closed its Baguio operations in 1998. Asian Spirit assumed but subsequently closed in 2008 when it changed management. Air traffic movement and operations declined dramatically over the years. Sky Pasada attempted reboot by offering flights but it likewise ceased operations in 2011. Loakan Airport now is dedicated to chartered flights, general aviation and military use.
The eventual slowdown of commercial traffic compelled management to close its terminal. Today, Loakan Airport is a sad canvass of a regional potential that is never fully realized – a mirror of Cordillera’s BLISTT concept has yet to find the chance to take-off.
I. Current State of the Loakan Airport
In an interview last May 29, 2013 with Mr. Ramon Ramos, Officer-in-Charge under CAAP / Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines provided the following information as follows:
a. Airport Management:
The Management of the Loakan Airport has been turned over by Air Transportation Office (ATO) to CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) since 2008. The government-owned & controlled corporation is under the umbrella of the Department of Transportation and Telecommunications.
Classification : Principal Class II Airport
Airport area : Area Center 1
Land area : 35.56 hectares
Runway : 1,800m x 36.00m
Apron : 320.00 m x 48.75 m (PCPN)
Strip : 100.00m X 1,800.00 m
Terminal Building : 432 sq m.
Pre-Departure Area Capacity : 80 persons
Administration Building : 100 sq. m
Fire Station Building : 338 sq. m
Vehicular Parking Area : 50m x 60m concrete
Control Tower : 700.00 sq. m
Flight Service Station : None
Cargo Terminal : None
CFR Capability : Category 4 Level B.
Fire Truck : One Fire Truck
Handheld Metal Detector : Two (2) Units (Serviceable)
X-Ray Machine : One (1) unit in good condition / operational
Average No. of Flights : 331 flights per year*
*Taken from the 2012 Aircraft Movement Report
The Administration Building was completed in 1999. The building was designed by a Japanese firm. The cost of the building including navigational instruments is Php170 Million pesos. The hiring for Blue guards (Airport Security) have been terminated effective October 2012 due to budgetary cuts.
No clients avail of the airport services during the rainy season (when flights are risky and unsafe). The airport’s main sources of revenue stem from fees collected from civilian chartered flights (business & affluent tourists) like Texas Instruments, which used the airport twice for 2012; the airport is being used also as landing for helicopters of private firms, and military/government use. (To be continued)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 10, 2013.