TACLOBAN CITY- With the runway of the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) Airport, this city, now under repair estimated to takes at least six months, the government should find an alternative airport to accommodate passengers that would be affected.
This was the suggestion made by Mayor Christopher Sheen Gonzales who offered their airport in Guiuan town, Eastern Samar as a possible alternative airport.
Gonzales said that their airport is big enough to accommodate big jets like an Airbus or Boeing, which under the present condition of the DZR Airport could not land.
“We are offering our airport here in Guiuan meantime that the Tacloban Airport is under repair. This will somehow help our passengers being inconvenienced,” Gonzales in a phone interview.
The runway of the Guiuan Airport at 2,094 meters is relatively longer compare to the 2,100 meters of the DZR Airport.
The said airport was used during the Yolanda relief operations with big planes like the military’ C-130 landed. It was built by the Americans during World War II.
At present, the Guiuan Airport is largely unused as there are no commercial planes using it.
Efren Nagrama, area manager of the CAAP-8, which runs the operations of the DZR Airport, said that they could not make the Guiuan Airport as an alternate airport.
According Nagrama, the Guiuan airport lacks the needed navigational facilities for it to become fully operational adding that they are not considering any alternative airport while repair of the Tacloban airport is ongoing.
“That is a good offer. But there are limitations like lack of navigational aids. Our issue here is safety of our passengers,” Nagrama said.
Aside from this, Guiuan is “quite too far” from Tacloban which is 80.7 kilometers away.
The portion of the airport’s runway, about 40 meters, is being repair by the CAAP after it was damage last Saturday. The runway’s quality, which is made of asphalt, has “weaken” after it was submerged by storm surge during the onslaught of Yolanda.
With the ongoing repair, big jets could not land at the Tacloban Airport although turbo propeller planes could land.
The rehabilitation work could take more than six months although Nagrama said that they would work double time to finish the work before the arrival of Pope Francis in January next year.
Bernardita Valenzuela, information officer of Tacloban city government, said the making an alternative airport would ensure additional cost.
“It is not feasible,” Valenzuela said.