By Sarwell Q. Meniano
TACLOBAN CITY, May 7 (PNA) – Passenger traffic at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport, which is the gateway to Eastern Visayas, rose 19.6 percent during the first quarter of 2015, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) reported.
Passenger numbers climbed to 260,113 from January to March 2015 from 217,448 a year ago. Number of flights also gained 42.79 percent from the previous year to 1,308.
CAAP Eastern Visayas Area Manager Antonio B. Alfonso said passenger volume at the DZR has been consistently increasing in the past few years as more airlines offer cheaper air fare, encouraging people to travel by air.
“January to March is the riding season, but I think it’s always peak season in Tacloban the whole year,” Alfonso added.
Of the 260,113 inbound and outbound passengers during the first quarter, 93,147 were recorded in January; 74,165 in February and 92,801 in March.
Numbers increased in January due to influx of pilgrims for the papal visit. Figures could be higher had the plane carrying cabinet secretaries did not skid off when it attempted to take off shortly after the historic visit of Pope Francis on Jan. 17.
Due to the accident, the airport’s runway had been closed for few days, resulting to dozens of flight cancellations.
Passenger volume also increased in March as more travellers started their vacation in time for the conclusion of school year 2014-2015.
Alfonso said that data on arriving and departing passengers for April could be lower due to limited airport operation from April 14 to May 7 due to massive repair. For three weeks, only propeller-driven aircrafts were allowed to use the airport.
The airport runway was left potholed after being submerged in seawater during the typhoon and its condition worsened after large aircraft made frequent calls on the city during the post-Yolanda rehabilitation period.
The government implemented a massive runway repair during the last quarter of 2014, but it was temporarily stopped due to influx of passenger for the holiday season in December and Pope Francis visit in January.
The DZR Airport as one of the country’s busiest with 14 daily flights. In 2014, the airport had 855,407 passengers. The figure, however is lower than in the previous years due to massive runway repair that imposed aircraft restrictions from September to December. (PNA)