San Fernando Airport Reopens

GMA inaugurates expanded airport

March 16, 2009

San Fernando City, La Union -- San Fernando airport officially re-opens to the public today with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inaugurating it, after undergoing Php 478 million upgrade aimed to accommodate international flights from the Asia-Pacific region namely China, Taiwan, Japan, Hongkong, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Korea.

Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President and CEO Narciso Abaya, said the resumption of operations of the San Fernando airport will further strengthen Poro Point’s appeal in attracting more investments and tourists, thereby generating more job opportunities for the people of La Union. “Increased investments and tourist spending augur well for the economy of La Union,” Abaya said.

The San Fernando Airport is part of the Poro Point Special Freeport Zone (PPSFZ) being managed by the Poro Point Management Corporation (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) which bankrolled the P565-million airport upgrade project.

It sits on a land area of approximately forty (40) hectares situated on barangays Canaoay and San Francisco, of San Fernando City. Among the phase I components that were completed under contract with SATRAP Construction Company, Inc. includes:
1. the removal of hill obstruction;
2. strengthening, extending and widening of the runway from 1320 meters by 36 meters to 2100 meters by 45 meters;

3. strengthening of existing apron and construction of taxiway;

4. construction of drainage lines;

5. construction of control tower;

6. rehabilitation of the Fire Station building;
7. construction of water receiving station;

8. construction of Power House building;

9. completion of perimeter fence;

10. provision of utilities such as power supply, water supply system and fire water supply system; and

11. provision of Air Navigation and Support Facilities such as Aeronautical Ground Lighting System, Automated Weather Observation System, Air Traffic Control Equipment.

The airport project was designed by Scheme Konsult, Inc. and was completed on February 1, 2009, a total of 615 calendar days, or almost 2 years of construction. Phase II involves construction of the terminal building.

PPMC president Felix Racadio said that the new international standard airport facility complies with relevant standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and is certified to be capable of handling aircraft as big as Boeing 737 and Airbus 320.

The upgrading of the aerodrome at the airport aims to support the development plan of the Poro Point Freeport Zone, consisting of the Wallace Air Station, San Fernando Seaport and Airport and other contiguous areas, as an alternative international gateway to northern Luzon.

PPMC executive vice president and chief operating officer Anthony C. Manguiat said the resumption of airport operations was expected to further increase passenger and cargo traffic which, in turn, would boost the economy of La Union and neighboring provinces.

“The San Fernando airport will complement the already existing international seaport, thus making Poro Point an ideal site for commerce and tourism,” Manguiat said.

PPMC vice president for airport operations Catherine Bada said that at present, all flights to San Fernando are chartered planes. She revealed that negotiations are going on with commercial airlines for regular domestic flights between Manila and San Fernando, A Manila-San Fernando averaging about 50 minutes.

She added that 15 flying schools are currently using the airport for cross-country training flights.

Asian Spirit (now Zest Air), used to fly 3x per week service before the airport was closed for upgrading.

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