CAAP reevaluating plan to put up 3rd Naia runway
The country’s air safety regulator is reevaluating the feasibility of a P2.4-billion third runway at the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila due to its implications on radar operations and a nearby highway, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said.
The third runway—seen as the solution to air traffic congestion in Manila that is costing airlines billions of pesos annually—was earlier this year cleared by President Aquino.
Barring any order from Aquino, the plan is still a go, Transportation secretary Joseph Abaya said separately.
CAAP director general William Hotchkiss III told reporters Friday that CAAP’s technical study showed that the third runway’s alignment would affect the location for the airport’s new Communications, Navigation, Surveillance /Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) project.
He noted also that the alignment would affect part of the Circumferential Road 5, or C5, meaning this may need to be “re-engineered.”
Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson earlier said the flyover connecting C5 across South Luzon Expressway would also be affected.
“We are re-studying that [third runway],” said Hotchkiss, adding that the plan was currently “a bit on hold.”
He added that it was unlikely the project, if pursued, would be finished by the time President Aquino steps down in mid-2016.
Hotchkiss noted that the relocation of the CNS/ATM project would cost money and a six-month delay to the start of the P13.2-billion facility’s operations.
Alignment changes to a major highway like C5, which serves as an alternative to the busy Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue, or Edsa highway in Metro Manila, could also be costly, he said.
Hotchkiss said other options were to upgrade more provincial airports to handle evening flights, allowing more flexibility for airlines to schedule flights as a way to reduce traffic in Naia at certain hours of the day.
CAAP was part of the group of agencies tasked to study the technical feasibility of the new runway, which would measure about 2,100 meters, or about 40 percent shorter than Naia’s primary 3,400-meter runway. While the length means it can handle only smaller aircraft, like the mid-range Airbus A320s, that would still translate to increased take off and landing events by roughly 40 percent, the DOTC said.
A crowded runway means airline operators have to spend more for fuel, while delays also carry their own economic costs. CAAP estimated that airlines lose at least P7 billion a year due to congestion at Naia, the Philippines’ busiest airport.
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