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Gov’t set to push through with 3rd Naia runway

/ 05:25 AM August 29, 2014

MANILA, Philippines–The government is all set to proceed with a crucial third runway in the busy Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, where air traffic congestion is costing airlines an estimated P7 billion a year.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said President Aquino already signaled his willingness to proceed with the project, which could be completed by 2016.

Abaya said the next step was to obtain the approval of the board of the National Economic and Development Authority, where only a few more details would need to be addressed.

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“We don’t see any problems [in getting the approval] especially with the clear instructions of the President,” Abaya said. The project was initially pegged at P2.4 billion, which includes the cost of building the runway and the expropriation of land near Naia, Abaya said.

“The [affected] residents are about 140. So it’s more manageable, but still challenging,” Abaya explained.

Naia currently has two runways, a so-called primary 3,400-meter runway and a shorter intersecting runway.

The current proposal for another 2,100-kilometer parallel runway was earlier suggested by conglomerate San Miguel Corp., which owns an indirect 49-percent stake in flag carrier Philippine Airlines. The new runway will allow Naia to increase flight events by at least 40 percent from about 40 takeoff and landings an hour to about 60, said John Andrews, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

A new parallel runway will be a boon to the Naia complex, which handled a total of 32.9 million passengers last year, making it the world’s 45th-busiest airport, according to data obtained from Canada-based Airports Council International.

It is also a relatively quick solution, given that the proposed $10-billion international airport at Sangley Point in Cavite may not be completed before 2025, according to the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which is conducting the feasibility study.

Airlines are naturally supportive of the new runway proposal, Andrews said. Planes unable to immediately land, for example, may need to burn extra amounts of fuel apart from causing delays in flight, adding to costs.

Andrews said airlines using Naia spent about P3.7 billion in added fuel expenses and another P3.7 billion from “engine costs and cost of aircraft time” associated with congestion.

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TAGS: Air Transport, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Philippines, Runway, third runway
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