THE opening of the P1.67-billion Cagayan North International Airport (CNIA) in Lallo town, Cagayan province. is “top priority,” according to officials of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA).
Raul Lambino, CEZA administrator and chief executive officer, said they expect to have the first official flight landing on December 20 and are now in coordination with the Department of Transportation (DoTr) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for the immediate operation of the airport.
“We were able to iron out deficiencies needed to be corrected or addressed in the airport,” Lambino added.
The CAAP, however, said the airport still needs to be provided with firetrucks.
The CEZA administrator was in Cagayan Valley to attend a special meeting of the Infrastructure Development Committee (IDC) of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in Region 2 with the ecozone’s special concern on the opening of the CNIA.
Lambino said the CEZA has invested close to a billion pesos in the airport’s construction.
Sitting on a 150-hectare land with a control tower and passengers’ lounge, the CNIA has a 2.1-kilometer long, 45-meter wide runway and can accommodate large aircraft particularly Airbus 320s and Boeing 737s.
The private sector initiated the building of the airport in partnership with the CEZA, a government-owned and controlled corporation, with 58-42 interest sharing, respectively.
Lambino said they are pushing for a 50-percent share of the airport with the expected signing of a new agreement next week.
“I cannot agree to less than 50 percent share. This is what the law allows for joint-venture projects,” he added.
The CEZA officials said the airport was envisioned to be the international gateway to Northern Luzon that can initially serve domestic flights to other airports in the country and international flights to Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and China.
Some 64 kilometers to CEZA operations center in Santa Ana town, the airport is also envisioned to be an aviation park and hangar where business and private jets can park in a modern facility.
Under Republic Act 7922, the CEZA manages the 54,118-hectare Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport, which covers the entire town of Santa Ana in Cagayan including the island of Fuga, Barit and Mabbag in Aparri.