Zamboanga International Airport

Zamboanga International Airport (Chavacano and Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional de 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 Cagayan de Oro City.[2] The airport covers a total land area of 270 hectares.

Zamboanga International Airport

Aeropuerto Internacional de Zamboanga
Zamboanga International Airport Terminal.jpg
Exterior of Zamboanga International Airport terminal
Airport typePublic/Military
OperatorCivil Aviation Authority of the Philippines
ServesZamboanga City
LocationMoret Field, Barangay Canelar, Zamboanga City
Hub forPAL Express
Focus city forCebu Pacific
Time zonePHT (UTC+08:00)
Elevation AMSL10 m / 33 ft
Coordinates06°55′20″N 122°03′35″E / 6.92222°N 122.05972°E / 6.92222; 122.05972Coordinates: 06°55′20″N 122°03′35″E / 6.92222°N 122.05972°E / 6.92222; 122.05972
ZAM/RPMZ is located in Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Direction Length Surface
m ft
09/27 2,609 8,560 Asphalt
Statistics (2018)
Increase 12.79%
Aircraft movements11,870
Increase 12.51%
Cargo (in kg) [2017]13,285,274
Increase 7.7%

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.[3]


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.[4]

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.[5]

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,[6]

Due to the US-RP Agreement, the US Air force used the airport while the Balikatan exercises were held in the city.[7] 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.[8] However, it was supported by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the purpose of converting the current property to a business district.[9] In September 2014, Rehabilitation of the dilapidated 1,800 m (5,900 ft) portion of the runway of the airport will be carried.[10][11]


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.[12]

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.[12]

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.[13][14]

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

Airlines and destinationsEdit

Cebu Pacific Cebu, Davao, Manila, Tawi-Tawi
Cebu Pacific
operated by Cebgo
Cebu, Cotabato, Tawi-Tawi
Leading Edge[15] Jolo
Philippine Airlines
Philippine Airlines
operated by PAL Express
Cebu, Davao, Kota Kinabalu (begins March 31, 2020),[16] Manila, Tawi-Tawi
Philippines AirAsia Manila (begins March 15, 2020)[17]
Platinum Skies Jolo, Tawi-Tawi


All data provided are according to its source.[1]

Operational Statistics
Year Passenger movements Aircraft movements Cargo Volume (in kg)
Rank Destination Frequency
1 Manila 55
2 Cebu 24
3 Bongao, Tawi-tawi 20
4 Davao City 20
5 Jolo 8
6 Cotabato City 3

source: CAAP [18]


Exterior of Zamboanga International Airport (ZIA).


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.


Zamboanga International Airport Terminal.

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 structuresEdit

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, to have catered delivery of 30,000 sacks of rice in the early seventies under the Maharlika Arpa Royal Family's distribution to impoverish 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.

Accidents and incidentsEdit

  • On March 2, 1987, Philippine Airlines flight 171 from Davao City damaged its engine when its landing was aborted by a herd of cows which strayed on the runway. The plane had slowed down its engine when the pilot saw the cows on the runway. The plane flew past the cows and landed safely on its second approach. All the 94 passengers of the plane were safe.
  • On May 3, 2006, Cebu Pacific flight 393, a Douglas DC-9 from Davao, was on final approach on Runway 27 at 9:15 am. After touchdown, the left main gear of the aircraft burst. All 100 passengers were safe, but the aircraft was stuck on the runway. Because of this, the airport was closed for 23 hours. Air Philippines flights to Zamboanga were canceled, as well as all Philippine Airlines afternoon flights to and from Zamboanga and Cebu Pacific flights to Manila. A South East Asian Airlines flight from Jolo that was about to land in Zamboanga was ordered to go back due to the incident. The Cebu Pacific Zamboanga office advised their Manila office about the problem, sending two new landing gears to Zamboanga. However, since the aircraft was stuck on the runway, the plane that was going to deliver the planes gear landed at Pagadian Airport and helicopters of the Philippine Air Force delivered the landing gears to the airport. The next day, the aircraft was removed from the runway and normal airport operations resumed. Due to the incident, Philippine Airlines and Air Philippines were forced to hold special flights.
  • On December 28, 2006, a Philippine Air Force assault helicopter crashed during an emergency landing Thursday on the airport's runway. The pilots of the rocket-firing MG520 helicopter, which is used against al-Qaeda-linked militants and communist guerrillas, were on a routine maintenance flight when they decided to make an emergency landing for still-unclear reasons. The MG530 was damaged and its two pilots were slightly injured and shaken by the crash landing.
  • On August 5, 2010, a bombing incident occurred upon the arrival of Sulu Governor Abdulsakur Tan, who was the main target of the terrorists, from Manila at 6:00pm. The incident killed two people and several were hurt, including Tan. This incident prompted Representative Beng Climaco to make a proposal to relocate the airport to its new site that will cost PhP 9 billion.
  • On March 9, 2011, Philippine Airlines flight PR-124 bound for Manila scheduled to depart at 6:55 am was turning slowly for take off when its left wheel fell off the concrete runway and got stuck in the mud. All 90 passengers safely disembarked from the aircraft and returned to the pre-departure area.

See alsoEdit


  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  1. ^ a b "Latest Statistics 2014". November 18, 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  2. ^ Volume of Air Passengers for the year 2008 Archived April 22, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 7, 2008. Retrieved April 26, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Martijn (January 6, 2002). "Lt. Col. Paul Moret, USMC (?-1943)". Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  5. ^ Montecillo, Paolo G. (January 21, 2013). "AirPhil Express eyes flights to Sabah". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on March 29, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  6. ^ "MIAA to take over Zambo airport operations". GMA News and Public Affairs. February 25, 2007. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  7. ^ US-RP Balikatan Exercises, Zamboanga, April 26, 2009
  8. ^ "DOTC shelves Zambo airport transfer". Sun.Star. July 29, 2007. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007.
  9. ^ "PCCI favors transfer of Zambo airport". Sun.Star. June 19, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  10. ^ "Beng leads groundbreaking rites for runway rehab today". Zamboanga Times. September 5, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  11. ^ "Mindanao Newsbits for September 11, 2014". Manila Bulletin. September 10, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  12. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 6, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 15, 2009. Retrieved November 2, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "DOTC set to finalize plan for new Zambo airport". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 2019-08-31.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Zamboanga International Airport Air Service Development Program". CAAP. 26 February 2018. Retrieved 1 March 2018.

External linksEdit