Loakan airport rehabilitation double – NEDA chief

Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia announced that the proposed P492 million rehabilitation of the Loakan airport is actually doable since the things that should be undertaken to ensure the significant improvement of the airport are also doable.

Pernia, who was in the city to personally spearhead the Cordillera stakeholders’ Forum on Regional Autonomy and the Baguio airport, said that there are projects that need to be implemented to make the airport qualify as a national airport considering that the same could no longer comply with the stringent requirements of an international airport.

“We believe that the proposed rehabilitation of the Loakan airport is doable because its operation is considered to be critical in improving the growth of the local tourism industry due to the airport’s strategic location in the country’s undisputed Summer capital,” Secretary Pernia stressed.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief said that what is important is that the regional Development Council (RDC) headed by Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, businessmen and other stakeholders should convene to come out with unified plan on how to sustain the operation of the airport once the government will invest for its desired rehabilitation to ensure the continuous operation of the only airport in the Cordillera.

Of the amount required for the airports’ rehabilitation, the national government has earmarked some P246 million to jumpstart the initial works for its upgrading while the balance of the funds will be earmarked in the government’s 2020 budget.

Secretary Pernia underscored that the resettlement of the informal settlers around the airport and the building of the proposed access road in one side of the airport to cater to the needs of residents living on the opposite side of the airport are all doable things which must be done with utmost political will of concerned government agencies and the local government.

According to him, government must be able to exercise its power of eminent domain over portions of the airport to make sure that the proposed rehabilitation of the facility will be realized and for the resumption of higher level of commercial flights in and out of the city.

Secretary Pernia disclosed that when the Loakan airport was still open for commercial flights, a single flight of a commercial plane already breaks even the operational expenses of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), thus, the need to increase the frequency of the flights to and from the city to generate added income for the government to recover its investment in upgrading the facility.

He claimed the operation of the Loakan airport will surely help in spurring the robust growth of tourism in various parts of the country because there will be available flights that could be scheduled from Davao via Clark to Baguio city, Baguio to Puerto Princessa, Baguio to Cateclan, Baguio to Batanes and vice versa among other routes that will allow the discovery of other pristine destinations in the different parts of the country.

Pernia stated that there is also a need for the department of Transportation, Department of Public works, NEA, CAAP and other concerned government agencies as well as the local government to convene and discuss the appropriate strategies on how to approach local problems hindering the rehabilitation.  - Dexter A. see