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Deferment of opening of new Cagayan de Oro airport due to lack of instruments sought

/ 04:28 PM April 10, 2013

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines—Saying passenger safety was their foremost concern, lawmakers and businessmen here and in the province of Misamis Oriental are calling for the postponement of the opening of the Laguindingan Airport until after the necessary navigation aids have been installed.

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro’s 2nd District said he and the Regional Development Council have filed petitions to defer the scheduled April 30 opening of the new airport until after the air navigation and systems support facilities have been installed.

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The facilities include  instrument landing system (ILS), VHF omnidirectional range radio, distance measuring equipment (DME), meteorological observing system, precision approach lighting system, and precision approach path indicator. The procurement of these instruments is and installation of the equipment is expected to be completed in May 2014.

The instrument landing system is the piece of equipment that can be installed before June 2013, according to Raul Glorioso, chief of the Aerodrome Development and Management Service of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP). Without these instruments, pilots will have to rely on visual flight rules.

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Misamis Oriental 2nd District Rep. Peter Unabia said passenger safety should be the foremost concern.

“We can wait until all the requirements of safety are addressed,” Unabia said.

The Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) has also filed a petition for deferment of the opening of new airport with the Office of the President and the Department of Transportation and Communication.

The 391-member CCCI said that the absence of the navigation and night landing instruments and dependence on visual flight rules will greatly reduce the current 25 flights per day at the Lumbia Airport to just eight flights at the LIA.

“The sunrise-to-sunset operation will greatly affect our campaign to entice airline companies to invest in the city. Most significantly, such move will jeopardize public safety and the integrity of the multibillion project,” the CCCI letter said.

The  letter also urged the government to fast-track the bidding and commissioning of the air navigation safety instruments.

Rodriguez said there was no reason to insist on opening the airport without the safety instruments.

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Senatorial candidate Teddy Casiño agreed with the need to postpone the opening. “It is only but logical to look into the concerns of the business and civil communities and their petition,” Casiño said in a telephone interview.

Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno, however, said the decision was up to the national government.

Most of the issues raised have been answered by the national government, but the question of safety is of paramount importance and is  non-negotiable, Moreno said.

During the public consultation on the terminal fee in February, Regino Hofileña, chief of CAAP’s administration department, said the new airport was  safer than Lumbia even without these instruments.

Hofileña said air traffic controllers will assist pilots during landings and takeoffs.

Hofileña said due to the low altitude of the LIA, the visibility of the runaway is much better than at Lumbia, which is at a much higher altitude and cloud cover could hamper visibility from a distance.

President Aquino announced the opening of the LIA during an electoral campaign visit her of the Liberal Party in February.

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TAGS: Air safety, airport, Cagayan de Oro City
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