Thursday, November 6, 2014

DOTC readies Laguindingan Airport for night landing

With all air navigation and airfield ground lighting systems at the Laguindingan Airport installed and tested, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) are aiming to begin night landing operations at the Northern Mindanao gateway within this month of November.

“We are happy to announce that the Laguindingan Airport is now equipped for night landing operations.We hope to activate evening flights by the end of November in order to give the public more flight options as well as to decongest the airport during the day,” said DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya.

In line with certain policies and procedures of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and CAAP,officials from DOTC and CAAP are conducting a joint inspection from November 4 to 6 for safety purposes in order to double-check on any possible system defects before they are put to use.

CAAP will then prepare the standard guidelines for arrival and departure procedures, for compliance by the airlines involved. After this, CAAP and the airlines will organizeflight schedules to ensure orderly operations and to prevent air traffic and terminal congestion.This willkickstart night landing operations at the airport.

“Night flights mean more flights and more options for passengers. As the gateway to Northern Mindanao, this development will spur greater economic activity to the bustling business and tourist destinations in Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Iligan, and neighboring areas,” said Abaya.

The more modern Laguindingan Airport was opened in June 2013 as a replacement to the older Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro. While determined by experts to be safer than Lumbia despite operating only under visual flight rules until now, one issue facing Laguindingan is its passenger capacity.

As early as 2012, Lumbia was already serving a little over 1.6 million annual passengers,which isLaguindingan’s annual capacity. This issue is largely because the airport was meant to be completed way back in 2006, but was not fully executed until last year. By that time, passenger volume had boomed. Per latest studies, the airport is projected to have 2.58 million passengers by 2017.

“Due to years of delay, Laguindingan was already at capacity by the time we opened it last year. To spare future administrations from similar issues, we are incorporating an infra expansion component into the operations contract that we will bid out in December,” Abaya said.

This contract is a 30- to 35-yearEnhanced Operations and Maintenance (Enhanced O&M) concession, scheduled for award within the 3rd Quarter of 2015.It is meant tosatisfy the projected of passengers for the next three decades, as well as to maintain the airport’s facilities and services at international standards.

The Enhanced O&M’s infra or civil works component will entailthe development and expansion ofthe cargo terminal building andthe runway, and the construction of a new passenger terminal building (PTB).

The project cost is computed at P 14.6-Million, and will be done in three (3) phases beginning in mid-2016. (DOTC)

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