Early morning, night flights by January 2015

Oct 1, 2014

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Air passengers traveling through Northern Mindanao’s gateway airport will have more flexibility in arranging their schedules with the return of early morning and night flights at Laguindingan Airport by January, 2015.

 

In the latest update on the ongoing navigational aids project installation, Regional Development Council-X (RDC-X) Co-Chair and NEDA-X Regional Director Leon M. Dacanay, Jr. disclosed during the 104th Executive Committee held 24 September at the NEDA/RDC-X main conference room the project, which was extended to November from June this year, is on schedule.

 

Airline Landing at Night

 

“The latest finish will be November and accordingly, they are on time,” Mr. Dacanay said. “We hope that by end of December or early January we will already have the night flights as well as the early morning flights. So far they are on time as monitored by the RPMC (Regional Projects Monitoring Committee).

 

According the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Area IX office, which manages the Laguindingan Airport’s operations, the first test run for the airport’s lighting system was successfully conducted last 25 September 2014, including the runway lights, taxiway lights, approach lights, apron lighting system and beacon lights.

 

Jose P. Bodiongan, CAAP Area IX manager, also disclosed that flight checks for the validation of the Performance Based Navigation (PBN) system procedures would be conducted starting next month to eventually pave the way for night and adverse weather operations.

 

Laguindingan Airport will soon be able to accommodate night flights and adverse weather conditions operations. Photo shows the last Cebu Pacific A320 flight departing for Manila from the old Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro City on June 14, 2013. (photo courtesy of Tom Udasco)

 

“The additional flights made possible by our extended operating hours would dramatically address our airport congestion especially during situations involving flight delays,” Bodiongan said.

 

Nevertheless, even if the new navigation system proves successful in enabling airliners to land and take off during limited visibility and adverse weather, it’s still a long way to go before international flights service what local residents have long been calling the Laguindingan “international airport.”

 

“We have to expand our passenger and cargo terminals whose design capacities were already exceeded at its opening June last year,” Bodiongan told the Cagayan de Oro City Tourism Council earlier this year.”With the entry of low cost carriers in the domestic aviation industry, our design capacity has been surpassed. This unprecedented growth in the aviation industry overtook our airport development.”

 

Since it was designed 12 years ago, Mr. Bodiongan said the airport already surpassed its design capacity of 1.6 million passengers with an air traffic volume of 1.622 million passengers recorded at the Cagayan de Oro (Lumbia airport) in 2012 which it was designed to replace.

 

Cebu Pacific Airliner Evening Flight

 

CAAP records show air passenger traffic for July-Dec. 2013 at the new facility added to the Jan.-June, 2013 volume of the Lumbia Airport breached 1.89 million passengers, or over three times the 606,216 recorded at Lumbia in 2006, a mere seven years ago. 

 

Despite Laguindingan Airport operating only by daytime under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), air passenger traffic still grew by 268,000 in 2013, the largest increase registered during the CAAP’s operations at Lumbia which had consistently attained double digit growth in passenger volume every year from 2006-2013.

 

The P14.6-billion Laguindingan airport development was among the three new PPP projects totaling P139.7-B approved by the NEDA board, chaired by President Aquino last 20 June 2014.

 

“The operation and maintenance is on a PPP Basis and part of the PPP terms of reference is the CAPEX or Capital Expenditure which includes the lengthening of the runway, as well as the expansion of the terminal building,” Mr. Dacanay said. “Later on we will have two more air bridges which will enable us to accommodate four aircraft simultaneously. And the runway will be extended to 3.5 kilometers thereby making it of international standard.”

 

NEDA is now preparing the guidelines for the bidding for the PhP 14.62-billion ($334.21 million) Public Private Partnership Project for the Laguindingan Airport Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Project.

 

The project involves the O&M of the Laguindingan Airport along with the development of associated infrastructure and facilities, and the installation of all required equipment to meet applicable international standards.

 

Specifically, these include expansion/construction of new passenger terminal(s) and  associated infrastructure and facilities; O&M of the passenger terminals (new and existing) during the 30-year concession period; development of airside facilities, including, among others, the apron, runway and taxiway; enhancement/development of airside facilities to meet the enhanced scale of operations at the  airport over the required duration; and an expansion of the passenger and cargo terminals, and parking lot.

 

The initial Terms of Reference for the Operations & Maintenance Public-Private Partnership (O&M PPP) Development Plan of Laguindingan airport covered its operations and maintenance. But it was later recommended for upgrading by the RDC-X to include expanded capacity and additional facilities to be carried out in three (3) phases.

 

Phase 1 specifies the expansion of the passenger terminal building to 14,490 sq.m. from the present 7,184 sq.m. expansion of the cargo terminal building to 8,652 sq.m. from the present 350 sq.m. and expansion of the parking lot from 10,300 to 24,600 sq.m.

 

Laguingingan airport runway lights test

 

Ayala Land, which originally owned 183 of 417 hectares of the land acquired by the government to develop the airport complex, plans to develop an aerotropolis around the airport. This is part of the pre-conditions granted by Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines for expropriating the lands the government bought from the corporation. Ayala Corporation, the parent company of Ayala Land, has previously indicated its intent to bidders for the O&M and expansion PPP project for Laguindingan Airport.

 

“Besides prioritizing the expansion of the passenger and cargo terminals and related facilities, we would still have to provide for additional space for Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) facilities if we wish to host international flights,” Mr. Bodiongan added.

 

Meantime, the CAAP is studying the feasibility of constructing additional terminal building and facilities to meet the increasing passenger and cargo volume, said Ret. Gen. William Hotchkiss, CAAP chief in an earlier interview.

 

With the large South Korean presence in Cagayan de Oro, the regional office of the Department of Tourism is eyeing flight routes from Busan to Cagayan de Oro via Singapore or a direct route from Busan to Cagayan de Oro to further bolster tourism in the region. 

 

“The first flight from Korea is scheduled to arrive by December, hopefully,” Mr. Dacanay said.

 

Catalino E. Chan III, Department of Tourism (DOT) Region X Director, said the DOT is eyeing a Busan, South Korea-Singapore-Cagayan de Oro (via Laguindingan) route since statistics show Cagayan de Oro has one of the highest number of resident Koreans in the Philippines.

 

“However, we are conducting further studies to see if the projected passenger volume from Busan would be sufficient to justify a direct link to Cagayan de Oro without dropping by Singapore, which has one of the highest number of resident Filipinos and can further bolster passenger traffic along this route,” he added.

 

Airbus A330 Nightshot

 

Mr. Chan said the projected passenger traffic along the proposed route should also be able to sustain at least twice weekly flights to allow Koreans a return flight within the week.

 

Korea was the Philippines leading visitor market in 2013, followed by the United States

Japan, China and Taiwan. The DOT has set a “fighting target” of 10 million foreign tourist arrivals by 2016.

 

By regional grouping, East Asia continues to contribute the biggest share with the ASEAN region the third largest contributor of the overall traffic base.   

 

Koreans ranked fifth in per capita spending among the Philippines’ top markets with US$874.59 in 2012, trailing Canada, Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom.

 

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