TACLOBAN CITY- Hopefully for good this time.

Effective on May 7, big jets could now land and take off at the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) Airport, three days ahead of an earlier date set by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines for the normalization of the operations at the said facility. CAAP, which runs and manages the operations of the region’s biggest airport, earlier, said that big jets could be accommodated at the airport’s runway on May 10. The airport’s runway undergo a major repair after it was damaged when seawater brought by the storm surge generated by supertyphoon “Yolanda” hit the airport located in San Jose district.

More than 600 meters out of the 2,140 meter-length of the airport’s runway need to be repaved for it to accommodate again big airplanes. The 1,400 meters of the runway allowed by the CAAP to be used was only enough to accommodate turbo propeller airplanes. But after 23 days repair, big jets could now again use the runway, said CAAP-Tacloban general area manager Antonio Alfonso.  The limited operations at the DZR irked not only ordinary travellers as the air fare more than double from previous fare but the business sector is saying that it resulted economic losses on their part.

But these criticisms were brushed aside by Alfonso saying that they are only after the convenience of the travellers adding that the restriction also resulted to a decrease income for the CAAP. Antonio said that the government also lost close to P220,000 daily from terminal fees and airline charges or roughly P5 million during the 23 days that only small planes were using the airport.

Before the restrictions, the airport handles 14 daily flights to Manila and Cebu with airbuses in full operations. However, with limited runway, the daily flights decreased to just seven times a day. An airbus plane could accommodate 170 passengers while the turbo propeller planes could only hold 72 passengers.  The initial announcement for the restriction of operation at the DZR Airport was for 16 days from April 15-30 but the contractor, BM Marketing, requested for an extension up to May 10.

The contractor, however, could be fined because the contract of the repairs of the 338 meters is up to May 30, 2015. Last year, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) closed the airport for airbuses flights due to massive repairs on the runway. The repair last year was halted twice to accommodate the influx of passengers for the holiday season and the historic visit of Pope Francis to Leyte on January 17 that attracted close to 200,000 visitors. (VICKY C. ARNAIZ)