More airlines keen on opening Baguio-Cebu routes
BAGUIO CITY—Some airlines have expressed interest in opening routes to the summer capital following the start of direct Baguio-Cebu flights by flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), an official of the city’s only airport in Loakan village said.
The inaugural flight from Cebu landed smoothly on the city’s runway on Friday, carrying 68 passengers, including Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who were welcomed by Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong and indigenous Filipino dancers from the Loakan community.
READ: Maiden flight of Baguio-Cebu route lands at Summer Capital’s only airport
Piloted by Captains Anthony Larena and Jose Olaguer, the plane flew back to Cebu an hour later, carrying 56 passengers in what PAL officials described as a “working flight,” and not a ceremonial trip.
Rosito Tamayo Jr., Loakan airport manager, informed the City Council on Dec. 12 that more airline companies may start their own routes to the mountain city, based on information among airline industry players.
“Nothing official has been transmitted to us [at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines or CAAP]. But it is actually natural in this industry for airlines to follow the lead of a rival company,” Rosito told the Inquirer on Friday.
The PAL Express turboprop aircraft that brought Rama to Baguio at roughly 10:30 a.m. officially revived commercial flights at the airport, which had been idle for decades due to the city’s terrain and afternoon mists that affect navigation for conventional and much bigger aircraft.
Capt. Stanley Ng, PAL president, said the Baguio-Cebu flights establish new “connectivity” between Luzon and the Visayas, and would “help promote travel and economic activity.”
“Wherever PAL flies, progress flows,” said Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista in a speech that was read by CAAP director general Manuel Antonio Tamayo.
Bautista stressed that PAL’s legacy began in Baguio.
The first aircraft to land in Baguio was a single-engine Beechcraft model 18 aircraft “with a full load of passengers, [marking] the birth of the country’s pioneer flag carrier,” Bautista said.
The Loakan Airport was built in 1934 on land expropriated from the Ibaloy tribe.
According to the secretary, air travel remains the barometer for economic growth, making up for the fact that air travel may have also helped spread COVID-19 in the beginning.
Bautista advised air travelers to remain mindful of the pandemic and continue practicing health precautions.
Magalong said it took three years to accomplish PAL’s return to Baguio.
He said reactivating Loakan Airport for commercial flights would speed up Baguio’s recovery following two years of restrictions and quarantines that left the city with a growth contraction of 17.1 percent in 2020.
Baguio awaits return of commercial flights
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