DoTC may compel airlines to reduce NAIA flightsBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The government may force local airlines to reduce flights out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), hoping to decongest the country’s premiere international gateway.
According to Transportation Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, discussions are now being held with local airlines to find a quick solution to congestion at NAIA, which causes frequent flight delays affecting thousands of passengers daily.
“Right now, we are still talking to them, to get them to cut their flights voluntarily, before we bring the heavy hand of government down on them,” Roxas said over the weekend.
Based on the Department of Transportation and Communications’ (DoTC) own observations, he said, airlines appear to be deliberately scheduling their trips during peak hours, knowing full well that NAIA will not be able to accommodate all these flights.
“At any given time, NAIA can only have 36 take-offs and landings because of the limited runway space. But the way flights are being scheduled, there will really be delays,” Roxas said.
Today, as much as 45 take-offs and landings are scheduled per hour at NAIA during peak times, he added, leading to delays that can affect all flights for the rest of the day.
“If they don’t do it voluntarily, government will force them to stop excess flights,” he said.
Since assuming office last year, Roxas has been studying the possibilities of adding another runway at NAIA.
“Unfortunately, if we follow international aviation standards, another runway at NAIA will not be possible because there’s no more space,” he said.
“We’ll have to reclaim land, or buy the properties at nearby residential areas. We would even have to take down the Baclaran Church to add a new runway, which is not possible.”
The more long-term solution, he said, was the complete transfer of NAIA operations to Clark Freeport in Pampanga. He said space at the former United States military base was more than enough to meet current and future demand for flights to the Philippines.
But this project may face delays as well. He said development of the new NAIA in Clark would not begin until the government concludes negotiations for a revised NorthRail contract with China.
The previous deal with China to finance the construction of a train line from Manila to Pampanga, approved during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has been canceled by the government.
The DoTC is now working on a new deal to replace the allegedly anomalous contract.
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