CALBAYOG CITY- The national government has allocated about P800 million for the expansion of the Calbayog Airport, considered to be a possible alternate airport to the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) Airport in Tacloban City. Of this amount, P120 million was already released to fund the expansion, said Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento of Samar first congressional district. The Calbayog Airport is classified as class 2 principal airport wherein only light planes could land of its 1,650 meter runway. It has a thrice a week flight serving the Calbayog-Manila route.

The expansion and improvement of the Calbayog Airport is part of the plan to make the airport as the alternate airport to DZR Airport in Tacloban, explained by Sarmiento.
According to Sarmiento, a close political ally of President Benigno Aquino, aside from P120 million released last August, the remaining P680 million will be available in 2015.
The Calbayog Airport, according to the Samar solon, is ideal to be made as an alternate airport due to its location that is not facing the eastern section of the country which is prone to natural calamities like tsunami and storm surges like what happened to DZR Airport during the onslaught of supertyphoon Yolanda last year. “Calbayog Airport is located in the western part of Samar, while Guiuan Airport, DZR Airport and Catarman Airport are all located in the eastern part which is facing the Philippine trench and is prone to hazards like tsunami and storm surge,” said Sarmiento.

As part of the improvement of the Calbayog Airport, its runway will be lengthened to 2.1 kilometers for it to accommodate bigger planes like Airbus or Boeing type of aircrafts.
Also, its width will be increased to 15 meters and additional 4 meters of asphalt to meet the thickness requirements under the International Aviation Organization standard and will be equipped with navigational facilities to enable to have a night flights, Sarmiento said. The Samar solon said with the Calbayog Airport having the same capacity with that of the Tacloban Airport, considered the premier airport of the region, could result to easy transport of people and even goods. The Tacloban Airport is undergoing major repair with a portion of its more than 2,100 meters runway being repair. The repair work could take about six months but with the arrival of Pope Francis next year, the officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines will double work to ensure its fast repair. With the repair ongoing, only turbo propeller type of aircrafts is allowed to land at the Tacloban Airport. (ROEL T. AMAZONA)