Baguio City government eyes Loakan Airport reopening, orders demolition of structures within buffer zone

Aviation Updates Philippines – The local government of Baguio City has ordered the demolition of at least 110 structures within the Loakan Airport's 150-meter buffer zone, in line with its plans to reopen the airport for commercial operations later this year.

According to Engr. Stephen Capuyan, head of the investigation and demolition division of Baguio's City Buildings and Architecture Office (CBAO), demolition notices have already been sent to the owners of the affected structures within the buffer zone. The owners will be given seven days to demolish these structures or show proof of ownership which will then be subject to hearings by the city anti-squatting and illegal structures committee.

"Structures that do not have the legitimate documents will surely be the first ones to be demolished," he said.

Baguio City mayor Benjamin Magalong, meanwhile, said that preparations for Loakan Airport's rehabilitation are "upcoming." He also said that the city government has already asked the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for permission for the takeover of the airport's management and operation, which will then be contracted to a private firm.

Mayor Magalong disclosed that the city government already had initial discussions with San Miguel Corporation (SMC) for this venture. SMC, however, has yet to submit a formal proposal as the city government's discussions with the DOTr are still ongoing.

Mayor Magalong mentioned that there is a clamor among tourists to reopen the airport to commercial operations. He added that those from places like Davao and Cebu are often discouraged from traveling to Baguio since they would first need to fly to Manila and then travel to Baguio by land.

The mayor previously said that PAL Express and Cebu Pacific are both interested in starting flights to Baguio City.

Loakan Aiport, which is currently open to chartered and military flights, ceased commercial operations more than a decade ago due to safety concerns. The airport has one of the shortest runways in the country and has deep ravines on both ends. Baguio City's unpredictable weather and thick afternoon fog also makes landing at the airport a challenge.

Photo by Richard Balonglong