March 1, 2024

The city council tasked the City Engineering Office to identify possible areas for the construction of an access road for the community affected by the reopening of the Loakan Airport and to identify the project cost.
The proposed construction of an access road is meant to ease the residents’ burden of having to travel at a great distance using the main highway to get to their destination on the other side when the runway is closed to pedestrians. 
Residents of sitios Arupong, Mangga, Pongian, Suyoc, and Ongasan earlier expressed concern on the closure of the runway for the arrival and departure of aircrafts. 
In previous meetings with the affected residents, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) had imposed the closure of the runway for one and a half hour before an aircraft’s arrival and one hour after departure as part of its safety procedure for the operation of the Loakan Airport. 
In a forum with the city council, barangay officials of Loakan Proper and affected residents proposed to shorten the closing hours. They told the council the imposed closure of the runway puts the nearby community at a disadvantage as residents cross the airstrip for their day-to-day activities. 
The estimated number of affected residents, according to Punong Barangay Edouard Cayetano, is around 5,000.
Rosito Tamayo, CAAP Airport Manager of the Loakan Airport, said certain violations back in the day such as allowing pedestrians to cross the airstrip just before or after the aircraft took off or just before or after it landed were tolerated.
However, strict adherence to international standards and regulations is now required since the Philippines is a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization, he said.
Tamayo said foreign object debris (FOD) caused by pedestrians may cause catastrophic effects to the flight of aircrafts.
He said by international standards, runways should not be used by pedestrians, but CAAP had agreed to allow pedestrians to cross the runway at Loakan Airport on a regulated schedule for humanitarian reasons.
Tamayo clarified the schedule for the opening and closure of the runway is not fixed as delays in flights happen unexpectedly.
This, according to Councilor Michael Lawana, will greatly affect the day-to-day activities of the community.
The possibility of providing shuttles to transport residents to the other side when the runway is closed as a short-term remedy was also broached during the discussion, but Tamayo said CAAP is not financially capable to provide such service. 
The city council urged CAAP to hold regular consultations with all the affected individuals to come up with solutions to address their plight.
Councilor Isabelo Cosalan, Jr. emphasized the importance of proper communication and appealed to CAAP to hear the residents’ plea.
In October 2022, a task force was created to recommend and implement policies and programs to ensure the safety and welfare of pedestrians and residents relative to the operation of the Loakan Airport.
The task force consists of barangay officials, CAAP representatives, the station commander of the Loakan Police Station, and the representative of the Loakan Jitney Cooperative.
Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan said the task force should be more active in resolving these pressing issues.
The Baguio-Cebu-Baguio flights of Philippine Airlines opened on Dec. 16 with four days of operation in a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday).
Aside from commercial flights, the Philippine Air Force started its long range navigation flights at Loakan Airport a few weeks ago. – Jordan G. Habbiling