U.S. military to rehab airport runway in Zamboanga

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/22 July) – The United States Armed Forces through the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) is set to repair the Zamboanga International Airport (ZIA) runway.

Danilo Abareta, ZIA manager, said the repair works at the 1.8 kilometer runway will start by the first week of August and is expected to be completed in two to three weeks time.

Abareta said the repair works will be undertaken by Filipino contractors but will be under the supervision of the JSOTF-P.

He, however, said he had no idea how much the project would cost.

“We have not discussed about the cost of the rehabilitation,” he said

“Definitely, it will be the whole runway that will be rehabilitated,” Abareta said, although he cited that “the scope of work will be the filling of potholes” with asphalt.

He said the repair works will not affect incoming and outgoing flights.

He said ZIA has an average of 12 in-bound flights and 12 out-bound flights.

ZIA served flights to and from Manila, Cebu, Davao, Jolo and Sanga-Sanga (Tawi-Tawi).

Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar earlier disclosed that she has requested the JSOTF-P to help rehabilitate the runway since they have been using the airport for more than 10 years.

The JSOTF-P had been using the airport since 2002 during the joint military exercise dubbed “Balikatan 02-1.”

Abareta said the U.S. forces under the JSOTF-P used big planes like the C-17 “Globemaster” in ferrying personnel and equipment.

The biggest plane they have used so far is a Russian-made plane known as the Antonov An-124-100 Ruslan.

A handful of American forces are still stationed in this city even as the JSOTF-P was recently downsized.

They assist Filipinos troops in fighting terrorism through training and intelligence gathering.

Abareta said the rehabilitation will be of great help since it would minimize maintenance expenses of the government.

Meanwhile, he said the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines is set to undertake asphalt overlay of the runway next year. (MindaNews)