TACLOBAN CITY – The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) will complete the full scale runway repair of the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) Airport early of December this year to resume normal operation for the holiday seasons. This was assured by Efren Nagrama, CAAP area manager whose office operates the Tacloban airport, adding that the overlay works for the 900-meter critical section of the runway has started on September 13 and will be completed in three months.

“By December 3, we will assess the strength of the runway to find out if it can be used by Airbus fleets,” Nagrama said. Authorities totally closed the runway on September 3 due to emergency repair of developing potholes. It was opened a day after but only limited to propeller-driven aircrafts. The initial budget is pegged at more than P400 million to remove old asphalt overlay and replace it with new protection. CAAP officially closed half of the runway on September 13 to give way for the implementation of the project’s first phase.

Although massive runway repair has been decided since early September, the actual civil works had been held as officials and contractors resolve technical problems of the project deal.
“Even if half of the runway is closed, the work is only at night since the presence of people in the field is disruptive to air navigation activities,” Nagrama added. From 11 Tacloban-Manila daily flights by three airline companies, the number was reduced to six by propeller-driven planes of Philippine Airlines. Cebu Pacific’s light aircrafts fly the Tacloban-Cebu route, according to CAAP.

“Hopefully, number of flights will increase next month since airline companies are still adjusting. Turboprops using the Tacloban airport are fleets for other destinations,” the official explained. The government is rushing the airport repair works in anticipation of air passenger season towards the end of the year and papal visit on January 2015. (SARWELL Q. MENIANO)