TACLOBAN CITY — Air passenger traffic at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban Airport rose to 21.38 percent in the first semester of 2018, primarily driven by additional flights to the regional capital, airport and tourism officials confirmed on Thursday.
From 589,160 inbound and outbound passengers in the first six months of 2017, the figure rose to 715,131 in the same period this year, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said in its report.
“The major factor is the additional flights going to Tacloban. In the past, there were only 14 flights daily from Manila and Cebu to the city, but now we have 21 flights every day from Manila, Cebu, Davao, and Clark,” said CAAP Tacloban officer-in-charge Allan Cahingcoy.
The official noted that more flights were added to the city after the closure of the country’s premiere destination, Boracay Island last April 26.
From 1,104 flights in April, the number increased to 1,236 in May.
In terms of passengers, the city’s airport accommodated 152,059 travelers last May, more than the 123,673 recorded in April.
In May 2017, the airport only served 114,935 passengers.
“We really benefitted from the closure of Boracay because tourists looked for alternative beach destinations in other parts of the country,” said Trina Dacuycuy, the supervising tourism operations officer of the Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office here.
Likewise, the region welcomed a lot of returning residents last May due to fiesta celebrations in different communities, the DOT observed.
Dacuycuy, who was the officer-in-charge of the DOT regional office from January to July 30 this year, said many of the region’s destinations are becoming popular through massive social media promotions.
“The growing number of tourism-related businesses in different parts of the region is a proof that we have been welcoming a lot of tourists,” she added.
In a statement, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the notable uptrend in both passenger and aircraft movement is a clear indication of a high demand for air transport.
“It points to a need to improve the conditions of the airports in this part of the country. The regional airport has to be modernized to meet international aviation standards, not only in its services but also in equipment and facilities,” the NEDA regional office said.
From 2017 t0 2019, the central government has set aside P1.03 billion for the improvement of the airport, including P716 million for the construction of a new terminal building, which was bid out last June.
The Tacloban Airport, officially known as Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR), was named after the late former House Speaker and uncle of former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos. It is classified as class 1 major domestic airport.
It is the main gateway from Manila and Cebu to the Eastern Visayas region. The airport was ranked as the country’s 9th busiest in 2016, with 1.1 million inbound and outbound passengers.