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The airport at Laoag is able to receive larger planes.

CITY OF LAOAG – The Laoag International Airport (LIA), which has been renovated from Level 7 to Level 9, is looking forward to hosting larger planes this year.

LIA manager Ronald Estabillo said in a phone interview on Monday that a category Level 9 airport allows the wide-body Airbus A330 to land on the recently renovated runway.

“This is in preparation for the anticipated direct international flights that we aim to offer in the future,” Estabillo added, noting that there is a market demand for direct international flights to Laoag from Hong Kong, China, and Honolulu, Hawaii, as well as vice versa.

The province of Ilocos Norte now has the largest percentage of families receiving financial support from abroad, with 61 percent.

Estabillo said the airport is now ready to welcome new arrivals with the completion of the airport’s powerhouse, expansion and improvement of the passenger terminal building (PTB), expansion of the apron, and rehabilitation of the airport runway, which is part of the national government’s infrastructure development program, including the asphalt overlay and site acquisition for further expansion.

Previously, the Laoag airport could only handle a total of 140 international and domestic passengers.

The airport, however, can now serve over 200 international passengers and 240 domestic passengers thanks to cooperative initiatives and development projects spearheaded by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

The rebuilt airport will improve the Ilocos region’s connectivity and mobility, as well as the province’s economic recovery, by streamlining travel requirements amid the global epidemic.

At the moment, the Laoag airport only serves Philippine Airlines, the country’s flag airline, five times a week via the Manila-Laoag route and vice versa.

The Laoag airport used to serve one international flight, a chartered flight from Guangzhou, China, and a few domestic flights prior to the outbreak.

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