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COTABATO CITY, Philippines – After two months of runway asphalt repair, the Cotabato airport has been reopened, but only for private and military purposes, officials announced on Saturday, August 19.
Carmencita Salik, the general manager of the Cotabato Airport Authority (CAA) under the Bangsamoro region’s Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC), said the airport would allow the resumption of commercial flights on October 1, to give more than a month for other repairs.
Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific canceled airport flights there starting on June 22.
Before it was temporarily closed for repairs, PAL and Cebu Pacific had 31 weekly flights from Cotabato to various cities in the country.
On June 21, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) for the temporary closure of the airport in Barangay Awang, Datu Odin town in Maguindanao del Norte, due to the P340-million runway and airport rehabilitation project.
The CAAP earlier said the airport would remain closed until August 18.
Last week, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) officials sought an explanation from the contractors about the delay in the repairs.
CAAP officials said the runway development project was closely supervised to guarantee safe operations once airlines decide to resume their services, which aim to accommodate single-aisle aircraft such as the Airbus A320 or Boeing B737.
The Cotabato airport’s closure in June drew public criticism due to the lack of public notice.
That month, Ronald Torres of Bangsamoro Business Council welcomed repairs but criticized authorities for the impact of the abrupt closure.
The airport’s closure affected Cotabato City, BARMM provinces, and even areas in the Soccsksargen region as flights were diverted to airports Davao and General Santos.
In late June, the BARMM found itself dispatching buses to pick up Hajj pilgrims from Saudi Arabia due to the Cotabato airport’s closure. – Rappler.com