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P-Noy to inspect P7.8-B Laguindingan airport

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino is set to lead the final inspection and unveiling of  a marker tomorrow at the P7.8-billion Laguindingan International Airport scheduled to open on June 15.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya who will join President Aquino sees foreign airlines flying directly to Mindanao next year with the additional navigational aids to be installed at the international gateway in Northern Mindanao.

Abaya said the operation and maintenance of the Laguindingan airport would be bid out to the private sector through the public private partnership (PPP) scheme of the Aquino administration.

It would be recalled that the DOTC decided to postpone the opening of Laguindingan Airport to June 15 to avoid disrupting the travel plans of passengers during the summer break.

The DOTC pushed back the transfer of the gateway to Northern Mindanao to the new Laguindingan Airport from the old Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro City by one-and-a-half months.

The new airport was scheduled to open in April 30 but the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has received requests from airline companies to postpone the transfer until after the summer peak season.

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The airlines that operate at Cagayan de Oro serving 2,000 passengers per day are national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) its affiliate PAL Express, Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific), and Zest Airways.

According to the airline companies, their representatives were encountering difficulties in reaching a substantial number of passengers who had already purchased tickets for flights in April and May, to inform them of changes in their flight itineraries.

The Laguindingan Airport is a key infrastructure project which is crucial to unlocking the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Corridor to more tourism and agriculture-oriented activities.

The government has previously announced that the new airport would be temporarily operated by CAAP using Visual Flight Rules (VFR) until its air navigation equipment is fully in place by May 2014.

Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Hyuk Lee and Chief Representative of Korea Eximbank Manila Office Tae-ik Park are expected to attend the event.

Laguindingan International Airport, with passenger terminal size of 7,184 square meters which may hold 1.9 million passengers per year, has been constructed with the support of Korea Eximbank, with an EDCF loan of $48.2 million and export credit of $62.8million or about $111 million out of total project cost of $167 million.

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