Seriously, Naga City-Camarines Sur needs an all-weather airport.
Domestic airline passengers get a doze of frustration each time flights destined from Manila to Naga city and return get axed due to cancellation. But it makes more ironic when the cancellation was not caused by aircraft mechanical trouble but by sunset limitations.
In fact, Naga, being served by the airport in Pili town, is not alone in that predicament. There are other airports outside the region that from time to time get flight cancellations for the simple reason of sunset limitation. This goes to show that airports and runways are not prepared to receive or dispatch a flight in early mornings or late afternoon to evening, since it is not equipped with runway lighting.
Other than sunset limitation, the Naga airport has been a bane instead of a boon, because of its structural location in Pili, about 30 minute drive from the city. The runway is only 1,402 meters in length well below the minimum requirement of 2,100 meters. Efforts and plans to extend the runway is not feasible. It is locked between a highway and ravine. So that extension is not an option.
This present orientation of the airport runway can only accommodate smaller propeller planes. Current domestic airlines that land in the airport have maximum capacity of 72 passengers per flight. It is limited to handle five flights per day.
This is why Naga Mayor John Bongat proposes the re-orientation of the runway to pave the way for bigger aircrafts, adding more passenger capacity per flight, to land.
Based on the records of the Tourism Office of the city, Naga had 1.2 million tourist in 2012. Many came in by taking the 8-10 hours road trip via the lengthy Pan Philippine (Maharlika) highway.
Efforts by local officials led by Mayor Bongat backed by the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce seem to befall on deaf ears. The Department of Transportation and Communications has overlooked Naga airport. Its improvement is not part, hence not funded, of the list of priorities by DOTC.