Gov’t, airlines agree to improve NAIA operationsBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Local airlines have come to an agreement with the government on the implementation of several reforms to address frequent flight delays at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) in Manila.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Tuesday admitted that the congestion on Naia’s runways was caused by the government’s inability to keep up with the significant growth of the airline industry in the last five years.
“We are working on solutions to the congestion, but we don’t want to choke the industry in the process,” Transportation Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said.
Data from the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) showed that 29.8 million passengers passed through Naia’s four terminals in 2011. This was up by more than half from the 18 million Naia passengers in 2007.
The number of plane landings and takeoffs also increased to 255,000 in 2011 from 171,000 in 2007. As a result, Roxas said, there are now about 48 takeoffs and landings or “activities” at Naia’s perpendicular runways every hour, which is above the designed capacity of 36 per hour.
“Obviously, this proves that there is a lot of traffic. But our runways have not grown longer. That’s the situation that we have, and that’s what has been causing these delays,” Roxas said. “Airlines have invested in new planes over the years, and the government has done little.”
In a press conference with Philippine Airlines (PAL) president Ramon S. Ang and Cebu Pacific CEO Lance Gokongwei, Roxas enumerated short-term solutions to make Naia’s operations more efficient.
He said commercial carriers have agreed to move their flights from Naia to destinations with “night-rated” airports to off-peak hours to help ease congestion during the busiest times of day.
The DOTC also unveiled measures to control the movement of smaller private jets by reviewing the rates paid by private owners for the use of airport facilities and banning flights from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
Roxas said the government would also build two rapid exit taxiways—at P300 million apiece—that would allow the faster movement of planes from runways to their terminal buildings.
He explained that the government’s long-term solution would be the development of the Clark Freeport in Pampanga to replace Naia as the country’s premiere international gateway.
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