TACLOBAN CITY- With the coming of Pope Francis to Tacloban on January next year, repair of the Daniel Z. Romualdez (DZR) Airport will be done double time.

So said an official of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) based this city as the biggest airport of Eastern Visayas is undergoing repair on its runway.

Efren Nagrama, CAAP area manager which runs the airport, said that while they have yet to come up with calendar of work days, they would make sure that the entire repair work would be finished before the Pope’s visit on January, 2015.

According to him, under normal circumstances, repair work of the asphalt surface of the runway covering 30 meters, would take “at the minimum six months.”

The damaged runway of the Tacloban airport that needs to be repair is about 40 meters.

However, taking into account of the visit of the Pope on January, they will work double time, Nagrama said.

“This is our concern. We are doing this repair so that during the arrival of the Pope, we are prepared already. (And) definitely, we will work overtime so we can fasttrack the repair,” Nagrama said.

He said that the contractor, DM Marketing, has agreed with their proposal to hasten the repair work of the runway of the DZR Airport.

But weather condition and availability of materials will also be considered on how fast they could do the repair work, Nagrama said.

With the ongoing repair, big aircrafts like Boeing and Airbus types would not be allowed to land at the DZR Airport except the turbo propeller airplanes.

Flights at the airport resumed on Thursday morning (Sept.6) after it was closed Tuesday morning.

Nagrama said that big airplanes use the entire 2,140 meters runway unlike the turbo propeller which only uses just half of the airport’s runway.

He said that with only small planes using the runway, work would still continue unhampered at the part of the runway that was damaged last Saturday.

Meantime, Tourism Director Karen Tiopes said that the situation at the DZR Airport could affect the tourism arrival in the region.

She, however, remain optimistic that tourists who want to visit the region still have several options like using the Cebu-Ormoc route and using the airport in Calbayog City in Samar.

“Repair of the runway is important. We cannot compromise the safety of our travelers. Thus, this has to be done. Access to the region though will now be inconvenient. Travel time will be longer,” Tiopes said.

For Farther Amadeo Alvero, spokesperson of the Palo archdiocese, they understand the rehabilitation being done at the Tacloban Airport.

“But surely, its early rehabilitation will be for the good and safety of the Pope and the pilgrims during his visit,” Alvero said.