MANILA, Philippines—Fresh fish, fruits and other delicacies from the provinces might take a little longer to reach Metro Manila’s dining tables after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines began enforcing on Wednesday an absolute ban on “food and fish runs” at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
At a press conference, CAAP director general John Andrews said the “food and fish runs”—referring to small planes that carry fish, lobsters, tuna, fruits and other food products from the provinces—would be transferred to the Maj. Danilo Atienza Air Base at Sangley Point in Cavite.
From Sangley Point, the food can be brought to Metro Manila overland or by sea.
The ban was supposed to have been enforced last June but the CAAP allowed the small planes to go to the NAIA for refuel and maintenance. However, the agency later discovered that some of the planes were still delivering fish and food.
According to Andrews, the absolute ban is part of the CAAP’s efforts to decongest air traffic at the country’s premier gateway by freeing up the primary runway, which is heavily used by commercial passenger flights.
The agency also restricted the landing at or taking off NAIA of corporate jets to two per hour from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. the following day.
Aircraft not exceeding 5,682 kg may land at NAIA from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. and from 8 a.m. to sunset daily and only when the secondary runway is not in use.
The restrictions, which took effect on Wednesday, are part of the preparations of the transfer of the general aviation services to Sangley Point, which shall soon be vacated by the Philippine Air Force.
For his part Manila International Airport Authority general manager Angel Honrado said general aviation accounts from seven to eight “events per hour” at NAIA compared to 40 for commercial airlines.
“The challenge with general aviation is it’s unprogrammed, you don’t know when they’ll take off or land in advance, unlike the commercial flights which are scheduled and given time slots. By international practice, general aviation is not given slots but in a good number of airports around the world, general aviation flights are not within the major airways and main terminals,” he said.
Honrado said the transfer of general aviation to Cavite would not totally solve congestion at NAIA but he said the CAAP measures may appear “small” but they are actually a “great step” in minimizing delays and cancellations.
He said the CAAP and the MIAA have also been upgrading air traffic systems and training more personnel.
Andrews also announced that CAAP has been consulting with the airline industry for the enforcement, possibly by September, of a “40-minute turnaround” rule for domestic flights, particularly low-cost carriers.
He said the regulation would give an aircraft plying a particular route up to 40 minutes of scheduled stop in the airport before embarking on the next trip.
He said 40 minutes would be enough for a domestic flight leaving NAIA and going back again to adjust for delays incurred in earlier trips so that the lost time would not accumulate and thus delay or even cancel latter trips.
The 40-minute stop would also give pilots enough time to rest and to prepare for their turnaround flights so as to minimize air accidents caused by human factor.
Andrews saidthat the scheduled turnarounds, once enforced by the CAAP, would be the first such regulation in the world.