New gateway to N. Mindanao gets ‘safety approval’
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - June 12, 2013 - 12:00am

MISAMIS ORIENTAL, Philippines – President Aquino inspected yesterday the P7.8-billion Laguindingan Airport here, dubbed as the gateway to northern Mindanao, which is set to open on June 15.

“It is much safer here compared to Lumbia airport. And that has been attested to by (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) director-general William Hotchkiss when they met with all the stakeholders,” the President told Palace reporters in a chance interview.

The Lumbia airport in Cagayan de Oro City – a 30-minute drive from Laguindingan – is on an elevated and mountainous area, which is blamed for navigational problems, particularly during nighttime, apart from the zero or poor visibility during inclement weather. Flights are sometimes diverted to Cebu.

“The general opinion is even without the navigational aids, this Laguindingan Airport is safer than Lumbia, owing to its terrain, the ridges up to the approach when the planes take off,” Aquino said.

The airport in Laguindingan sits on a 180-hectare land donated by the Ayalas.

Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno thanked the Aquino administration and the Korean government for the facility.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the new airport is “one of the country’s biggest,” and is capable of accommodating A320-330 Airbus planes, which can carry more than 300 passengers.

He said airplanes can land here “any day of the year under any weather condition” and it is a “much safer” facility.

The idea of building an airport here was first raised during the time of Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino.

The Laguindingan airport can connect to both Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities, and accommodate around 1.6 million passengers every year.

It is seen to boost the tourism department’s “It’s more fun in Philippines” campaign.

The airport has a terminal of 7,184 square meters. It was constructed with the support of Korea Eximbank with a loan of $48.2 million and export credit of $62.8 million, or $111 million of the total project cost of $167 million.

Abaya said the operation and maintenance of the Laguindingan airport would be bid out to the private sector through the public-private partnership program.  – With Gerry Lee Gorit, Louella Desiderio

AIRPORT AQUINO CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY OF THE PHILIPPINES KOREA EXIMBANK LAGUINDINGAN LAGUINDINGAN AIRPORT LOUELLA DESIDERIO LUMBIA MISAMIS ORIENTAL GOV ORO AND ILIGAN
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