Zamboanga International Airport

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Zamboanga International Airport (Chavacano: Aeropuerto Internacional de Zamboanga; Filipino: Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Zamboanga; IATA: ZAM, ICAO: RPMZ) is the main airport serving Zamboanga City in the Philippines. The airport is Mindanao's third-busiest airport after Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City and Laguindingan Airport in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental.[1] The airport covers a total land area of 270 hectares.

The airport is officially classified as an international airport by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, despite only offering scheduled domestic passenger services. This is the same agency that runs not only Zamboanga International Airport, but all other airports in the Philippines except the major international airports.[2]


The airport started off as Moret Field, an American airfield that was constructed from a rather poor Japanese airfield just north of Zamboanga. Construction was started by Philippine Commonwealth troops just after American forces landed at the present location on March 15, 1945. It was improved by a U.S. Army airfield construction unit using considerable Filipino labor. When completed, the single runway was about 4,500 feet long aligned SW to NE. There were two adjacent taxiways along both sides of the runway with revetment areas. At the peak of operations in 1945, there were about 300 aircraft flying from the airfield. The vast majority were United States Marine Corps aircraft from Marine Aircraft Group 24 which were supporting U.S. Army & Philippine Army infantry operations on Mindanao but also ranging down the Sulu area as far as Borneo.[3]

Subsequent improvements increased its capacity to hold flights. The airport used to service nearby international destinations in the past, such as Labuan and Sandakan in Malaysia via Philippine Airlines and Kota Kinabalu by Malaysia Airlines; these international services were eventually cut. The Philippine Airlines, in particular, cut its services during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, when it was struggling to keep afloat.

On December 10, 2004, South Phoenix Airways announced their international flights to Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, but it was eventually cut due to poor load of passengers. Likewise, Asian Spirit commenced service to Sandakan on May 2, 2007, restarting Zamboanga's international operations. The Zamboanga-Sandakan route and other international routes are expected to grow with the signing of a BIMP-EAGA open skies agreement, notably with Indonesia's Sriwijaya Air planning to fly the Zamboanga-Sandakan route.[4]

Zamboanga International Airport, along with all other international airports in the Philippines, was placed under the control of the Manila International Airport Authority under Executive Order No. 341, signed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on August 4, 2004. The changes in management were slated to take effect in June 2007,[5]

Due to the US-RP Agreement, the US Air force used the airport while the Balikatan exercises were held in the city.[6] The biggest aircraft to land in Zamboanga International Airport is the Russian Antonov An-124-100 Ruslan made to deliver pickup trucks for the American training mission here in Zamboanga. North American Airlines Boeing 757-200s were chartered to transport American soldiers from Guam to Zamboanga. Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIIs flying from Okinawa come to Zamboanga every now and then. Gemini Air Cargo's DC-10 was once in Zamboanga Airport for delivery of the materials needed for the US Air Force training.

There were plans to transfer the airport to a 104-hectare lot located between Barangays Talabaan and Taluksangay, possibly making it the largest airport in Mindanao and about 12.75 km (7.92 mi) from Zamboanga City. The plan was suspended due to lack of funding.[7] However, it was supported by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the purpose of converting the current property to a business district.[8] In September 2014, Rehabilitation of the dilapidated 1,800 m (5,900 ft) portion of the runway of the airport will be carried.[9][10]


Currently, the proposed plan of transferring the present airport in Barangay Sta Maria and Barangay San Roque has finally pushed through with the proposed of the new Zamboanga International Airport somewhere in Barangay Mercedes, Barangay Taluksangay and Barangay Talabaan which is now ongoing as reported.

The national government through the (DOTC), allotted 15 million pesos for the feasibility study of the project. In November 2008, Asian Development Bank (ADB) consultants as well as engineers from Davao City conducted ocular inspection at the new airport site.[11]

The development of the new airport for Zamboanga will involve approximately 175 hectares of land acquisition, including the areas for PALS and SALS, glide slope, future runway extension and parallel taxiway and 30-meter road right of way for the access road and diversion of existing barangay road.

The project components will include:

  • Construction of new terminal that will accommodate more passengers.
  • Construction of 6 jet bridges on the proposed new terminal.
  • Construction of new 3,440 metre long runway, to accommodate more and bigger planes.
  • Construction of new taxiways and aprons.
  • Construction of a new modern control tower.

Once it is completed, the new international airport will have the following facilities:

  • 6 Jet Bridges.
  • 3,440 meter runway.
  • Accommodations for up to 8 Million passengers per year.

December 21, 2007 - The Philippine Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has allotted some P257 million (US$5.2 million) for the improvement of Zamboanga Airport in Zamboanga City.[11]

Earlier, a consortium of international and local investors, offered to construct a modern airport in the city under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme. The proposal was given to the Air Transportation Office (ATO) by the consortium of investors from Germany, France, Japan, Guam and the Philippines. At least 16 international airlines are expected to fly between the city and its neighboring countries per Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) approval.

October 28, 2008 - Zamboanga International Airport Authority has finalised that observers and engineers are going to have an ocular inspection on the area's plan, to see the cost of the project and other prospect details. It says that everything will start this coming month (November) reporter said.[12][13]

March 6, 2009 - Released the feasibility study of Zamboanga International Airport Development Project by the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

October 2020 - Mindanao Development Authority assistant secretary Romeo Montenegro reported construction of New Zamboanga International Airport in Zamboanga City would cost government around PHP13.9 billion (US$286.5 million). He said that around PHP200 million (US$4.1 million) has already been allocated to Zamboanga City's government for the acquisition of land for the airport site, but actual construction has yet to commence. The project will feature a new terminal, six jet bridges, a control tower and will have a 3440m runway to accommodate heavier aircraft. Construction is expected to commence in 2021.

Airlines and destinations

Since March 17, 2020, all flights have been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to which, this list is no longer current and destinations are subject to change without prior notice.[14][15][16]

Airlines Destinations
Platinum Skies Jolo, Tawi-Tawi
Philippines AirAsia Cebu Manila
Philippine Airlines Manila
PAL Express Cebu, Davao, Manila, Tawi-Tawi
Leading Edge General Santos, Jolo
Cebu Pacific Cebu, Davao, Manila, Tawi-Tawi
Cebgo Cebu


All data provided are according to its source.[17]

Operational Statistics
Year Passenger movements Aircraft movements Cargo Volume (in kg)
2001 270,138 8,204 5,871,863
2002 295,611 5,557 6,209,752
2003 309,331 3,505 7,591,923
2004 353,051 3,509 7,561,297
2005 360,925 3,281 5,821,416
2006 396,182 2,739 5,009,257
2007 485,218 2,879 5,928,742
2008 469,540 3,305 6,060,161
2009 582,917 3,712 7,690,309
2010 623,639 3,805 8,965,227
2011 804,052 7,145 9,470,350
2012 904,668 17,290 10,801,926
2013 796,530 18,142 10,357,858
2014 901,041 17,522 12,676,538
2015 911,329 13,410 11,861,720
2016 980,476 9,362 12,334,832
2017 1,076,372 10,550 13,285,274
2018 1,214,078 11,870 13,618,163
2019 1,202,407 11,947 14,509,517
Rank Destination Frequency
1 Manila 55
2 Cebu 31
3 Davao 21
4 Bongao, Tawi-tawi 20
5 Jolo 6
6 Clark 4
7 Cotabato City 3
8 Kota Kinabalu 3

source: CAAP [18]



Zamboanga International Airport has one 2,610-meter primary runway. The dimensions of the runway are 2,610 meters in length by 45 meters in width, is designated as Runway 09/27 and is capable of supporting the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320. The airport also has taxiways that measure 25 meters in width. While the runway can support aircraft as big as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 747, the airport lacks the necessary equipment to facilitate the landing of large aircraft. There are plans to extend the runway to 3,000 meters, making it capable of receiving even bigger aircraft.

The airport, like all other international airports in the Philippines, has runway lights, which make it possible to support night landings. This makes 24-hour airport operations possible.

The runway is presently being shared between the airport and the Edwin Andrews Air Base (EAAB). Military jets and aircraft land and depart on this runway. At the end of Runway 09 is the street to Barangay Sta. Maria, and a park. This can be a perfect spot to take pictures for departing and landing aircraft. At the end of the Runway 27 is San Roque St., which hosts a large public cemetery. It is also a good spot for plane spotting. Each end of the runway has aprons capable of supporting two Boeing 737s. One of the aprons in the end of Runway 9 is being used by the Philippine Air Force. OV-10s, C-130s, and other Air Force and military aircraft are parked there. While the apron at the end of Runway 27 is available, but need repairs.


The airport has one terminal, designed by a Mindanaoan architect with help from National Artist for architecture Leandro Locsin, and a 30,000 square-meter apron. The apron has two taxiways. The apron is capable of supporting 4 narrow-body aircraft simultaneously. There are also plans to add another apron across the old apron so that it can accommodate more aircraft at the same time.

The terminal building has a capacity of 400 passengers. The terminal houses a metal detector and an X-ray machine, both located at the main entrance of the airport and before entering the Pre-Departure Area. The terminal also has 2 baggage carousels and push carts for passengers' baggage. The airport has check-in counters for each of the airlines that serve Zamboanga.

Inside the terminal, there is only one store managed by the Air Transportation Office. The airport has 3 restrooms. Outside the terminal are the ticketing offices of Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and Platinum Skies. There are also some stores and travel agencies outside the airport terminal.

Other structures

The airport also has a modern control tower, a fire station with 2 firetrucks. There are hangars on the southwest of the terminal. The hangars are privately owned by some charter and business airlines. An old Swift Air Douglas DC-3, one of four is still on the hangar. Once owned by the proclaimed Sultan of Zamboanga and Basilan-Yacub Lim, is believed to have catered delivery of 30,000 sacks of rice in the early ‘70s under the Maharlika Arpa Royal Family's distribution to impoverished areas in Basilan, Tawi-tawi, Palawan, Sulu and north Borneo-Sabah. Present plans for a Maharlika Civil Air Patrol, under a USAF CSL are being held pending arrival of its aircraft. The airport's parking area can accommodate 110 vehicles.


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