Caap-Davao addresses public concerns, bares budget challenges

DAVAO. With the airport currently being under the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), steps to improve the airport have been quite slow. (SunStar File Photo)
DAVAO. With the airport currently being under the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), steps to improve the airport have been quite slow. (SunStar File Photo)

AN OFFICIAL from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines-Davao Region (Caap-Davao) acknowledged the need for improvements at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport, also known as Davao International Airport (DIA).

Rex Obcena, Caap-Davao's manager, expressed regret for the inconvenience caused to the public due to the lack of significant airport enhancements during the 20th City Council session on Tuesday morning, May 7, 2024.

He said the significant improvements require a budgetary allocation that is beyond the scope of the CAAP-Davao Region.

Addressing specific concerns raised by Davao City Mayor Sebastian "Baste" Duterte and Councilor Al Ryan Alejandre, Caap-Davao has taken steps to address issues promptly. 

The issues

Regarding priority lanes for seniors and persons with disabilities, Obcena noted that every airline has designated lanes for these individuals. 

Currently, there are 30 check-in counters, including seven for Philippine Airlines, 10 for Cebu Pacific, five for Air Asia, and eight for international carriers.

In response to concerns about gender-neutral restrooms, Obcena explained that due to space limitations, a gender-sensitive restroom is included in their proposed restroom rehabilitation plans, for which funding has been requested from the Caap Corporate Operating Budget (COB).

Regarding water supply issues, Obcena said that unreliable connections with the Davao City Water District (DCWD) and a damaged airport pump caused disruptions, but repairs have been made and connections stabilized.

The shortage of pushcarts, a major issue for passengers, has been partly addressed with preventive maintenance on existing carts and the donation of 590 new pushcarts. Additionally, 40 unused carts were transferred from other airports, bringing the total to 739 units, and eliminating the previous shortage.

“As of the present we are no longer experiencing the lack of pushcarts in the airport,” Obcena assured.

To address the lack of seating, Caap-Davao will provide 21 new gang chairs and relocate 20 more from General Santos Airport, pending completion of airport construction.

On air conditioning, three chillers were installed in recent years, but 25 air handling units (AHUs) installed in 2000 require replacement, with budgetary constraints delaying the process.

Obcena cited understaffing as a reason for cleanliness issues, with only 64 facility cleaners managing airport hygiene, far short of the ideal 182 personnel required.

“We really need much additional manpower in so far as maintaining the cleanliness of the airport. We have determined the ideal manpower complement of 182,” he said. 

Budget constraints

Budget constraints limit Caap-Davao's authority to projects under P5 million, necessitating collaboration with the central office and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for major improvements.

He said that the delay in procuring additional pushcarts stemmed from their omission in the Corporate Operating Budget (COB) for the calendar year 2024.

Several projects are still in progress, including expanding public-private partnerships, enlarging passenger terminal buildings, and implementing the Department of Transportation's (DOTr) plan to introduce a pilot airport passenger biometric system to enhance the passenger experience.

The DIA manager clarified that the delay in turnover is attributed to the need for seven more private sector representatives for the Davao International Airport Authority (Diaa). The Diaa was established under Republic Act 11457, known as the Charter of the Davao International Airport Authority.

“Transition efforts are still ongoing and efforts to secure the airport budget from the DBM amounting to P121 million,” Obcena said. 

A resolution was filed urging the DOTr to expedite airport management turnover to the Davao International Airport Authority (Diaa), aiming to enhance funding autonomy and expedite facility improvements funded by terminal fees.

“I think this is the root of the problem, we need to convene as soon as possible the new composition of the Davao International Airport Authority,” he said. 

Councilor Al-Ryan Alejandre, chair of the committee on tourism and beautification and co-sponsor of the resolution, highlighted stakeholder dissatisfaction due to inadequate facilities despite substantial terminal fees, underscoring the need for swift action on the turnover to DIAA for improved airport management and infrastructure upgrades.

He expects that the transition will be completed by December 2024, involving a series of operational changes. RGP


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