MAIDEN FLIGHT. Passengers disembark from a Royal Air plane that made an inaugural direct flight from Macau to the Cagayan North International Airport on Sunday (Aug. 18, 2019). The arrival of the first direct flight at the airport in Lal-lo town elicited cheers from local and national leaders. (PNA photo by Villamor Visaya Jr.)

LAL-LO, Cagayan -- The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority and local officials here are expecting more economic and tourism opportunities as private air carrier Royal Air started its international and domestic flights at the Cagayan North International Airport here on Sunday.

CEZA senior deputy administrator Raymundo Roquero, Lal-lo Mayor Oliver Pascual and other officials supported the inaugural direct flights by welcoming Royal Air with a ceremonial water cannon salute to its aircraft.

“This will be a big boost to the economic activities under the CEZA as airborne traffic will be easily facilitated,” Roquero said.

CEZA officials, local leaders, and airline executives poured champagne and wine on the nose of the plane to celebrate the maiden direct flight.

Roquero said the Royal Air operation will further benefit the Cagayan Special Economic Zone on air traffic and complement the sea-borne traffic at Port Irene.

At least 161 international and domestic passengers arrived to and departed from Lal-lo airport on Sunday.

A total of 44 passengers departed for the Macau International Airport while 91 passengers arrived in Lal-lo from Macau to Lal-lo.

For domestic flights, 13 passengers flew in from Clark Airport while 13 passengers departed Lal-lo for Clark.

The PHP1.66-billion airport located at the 150-hectare airport hub has a 50-year joint venture agreement between CEZA and Cagayan Land Property Development Corporation (CLPDC).

The private consortium contributed 58.3-percent in equity or PHP966 million while CEZA's share is 41.7-percent or PHP691 million, economic zone records showed.

Roquero said the airport, envisioned to be an international gateway in Northeast Luzon, could also soon serve flights to Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and China.

An aviation park and hangar hub was also planned for the airport where business and private jets can park at a modern and state-of-the-art facility.

The airport’s major facilities are the control tower and passengers’ lounge. It has a runway measuring 2,100 meters in length and 45 meters in width, following the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

This allows the airport to accommodate narrow-body commercial airliners such as Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. (PNA)