Traders welcome resumption of flights at Cotabato airport
COTABATO CITY — The business community in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has welcomed the resumption of commercial flights at Cotabato Airport located in Maguindao del Norte province.
Lawyer Roland Hallid Torres, chair of the Bangsamoro Business Council, said the resumption of commercial flights that started on Sunday augured well for tourism and business activities that would greatly contribute to the region’s economic growth.
Alhamsie Kadtad, a trader from BARMM, said the more than three months of airport closure had inconvenienced many businessmen who had to endure a five-hour travel either to Davao City or General Santos City before they could connect to the other major cities in the country.
“This has a positive impact on the business sector as we will be able to go back to our usual operations,” said Torres in a statement.
“I hope airport authorities ensure that preventive maintenance such as this one should be scheduled properly so as not to take such a long period of time,” Kadtad said.
The rehabilitation of the airport runway, which started on June 22 and was completed on Sept. 30, took a total of 100 days. But it marked a significant step in improving air accessibility and safety in the region, Torres noted.
Cotabato Airport, located in Barangay Awang of Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao del Norte, caters to travelers in the provinces of Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Cotabato and Lanao del Sur and the cities of Cotabato, Tacurong and Kidapawan.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) classified the airport as a Class 1 principal airport, or one of the country’s major airports for domestic flights.
Since June 22, the airport was shut down to all aircraft except helicopters because of safety issues and the rehabilitation of its runway.
On Aug. 19, the airport resumed operations only for military and small private planes.
As it resumed its first commercial flights on Sunday, the Ministry of Transportation and Communication, through its Bangsamoro Airport Authority and the Caap of the Bangsamoro, also announced the partial opening of the airport terminal for its daily services.
The first commercial aircraft to land at Cotabato Airport was from Cebu Pacific, which was carrying passengers from Manila. It was followed an hour later by a Philippine Airlines flight, also from Manila, whose passengers burst into applause as soon as the aircraft came to a halt, according to BARMM’s Tourism, Investment and Trade Director General Rosslaini Alonto-Sinarimbo. INQ