Laoag Int’l Airport gets major upgrades to boost tourism

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte (PIA) – The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) continues its various expansion projects at the Laoag International Airport (LIA) to improve aviation services in the region.

CAAP Area 1 Manager, Engr. Ronald Estabillo said they allocated some P1.9 billion on airport upgrades.

The facelift includes the allotment of some P1 billion for the expansion of the airport.

Estabillo said affected landowners can coordinate with the Provincial Assessor’s Office for their claims.

Moreover, P150 million was also allotted for the rehabilitation of the terminal building, which is expected to be completed by June 2025.

“The LIA terminal building has an existing capacity of 450 in the departure area of domestic flights. Once the rehabilitation project is completed, the capacity will be 556. Meanwhile, the terminal of international flights with a capacity of 275, will now be 424 in capacity when this project is completed,” Estabillo said during the Kapihan sa Bagong Pilipinas program of the Presidential Communications Office, through the Philippine Information Agency, on Tuesday.

Another major upgrade in LIA is the ongoing overlaying of asphalt in the runway as well as the provision of a baggage carousel and the construction of the Department of Transportation (DOTr)-Project Management Office. 

With a budget allocation of P595 million, the project is expected to be finished by November this year.

Meanwhile, P128 million is allocated for the runway strip correction and the construction of the turning pad is expected to be completed by June 2024.

The P29 million expansion of the apron to accommodate bigger aircraft is also expected to finish this June.

LIA is also poised to be a model airport in the country as the first to utilize solar energy in powering its runway and navigational lights.

“Our runway and navigational lights will be solar-operated. This is our development in renewable energy in LIA. It will be a model for all airports in the country because Laoag is prioritized. The solar energy machines will be installed in the new terminal building once construction is completed,” Estabillo said.

The CAAP manager said these developments are aimed to entice more visitors and regional flights from Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan, and even a commercial flight from Honolulu, Hawaii direct to Laoag City and vice versa.

 Avelino Simeon, who migrated to Hawaii, is hoping for the comeback of the Honolulu-Laoag direct flight in LIA for convenience.

“I’m really hoping that the direct flight to Hawaii comes back, especially because I am a senior citizen. It will be easier for me to travel because it won’t be as tiring, it’s less hassle, and lower expenses, compared to taking connecting flights from Manila,” he said.

Simeon arrived in Ilocos Norte last May and noted that the LIA has a more organized system for arrivals, has upgraded facilities, and is properly cleaned and maintained.

Based on the data from CAAP, the number of airport movements in terms of commercial, general aviation, and military aircraft at LIA this year, has steadily increased compared to 2023.

In January this year, the number of aircraft movements at LIA increased by 105 percent from 240 to 493. 

For February, the number of movements increased by 185 percent, going from 342 last year to 974 this year. 

Meanwhile, March saw a 138 percent increase in movements, with 760 this year compared to 320 last year. 

Lastly, there was a 73 percent increase in April from 360 to 624 aircraft that utilized LIA.

In 2023, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earmarked P3 billion for the rehabilitation and modernization of some airports in the country including LIA, as part of the commitment of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to improve the country’s mobility and connectivity. 

That year DBM allocated an initial P785 million to LIA for rehabilitation projects. (JCR/AMB/EJFG/PIA Ilocos Norte)

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