PAL urges Duterte: Don’t forget to resolve airport woes, too | Inquirer Business
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PAL urges Duterte: Don’t forget to resolve airport woes, too

/ 12:16 AM May 26, 2016

The Philippine Airlines (PAL) vowed to boost flights and connectivity in the country and abroad but it needed help, too, starting with better airport infrastructure at home, its top official said.

PAL president Jaime Bautista said the company would renew calls for the administration of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte to prioritize the improvement of airport infrastructure, especially the main gateway via Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

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“We are very hopeful that under the Duterte administration, there would be a defined aviation policy,” Bautista said on the sidelines of the launching of PAL’s first boutique store late Tuesday.

Bautista said constraints at Naia’s four passenger terminals, which handled 36.7 million passengers in 2015 or beyond its intended capacity, was hurting the firm’s ability to grow.

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Domestic carriers were expanding their current fleets as demand for air travel remained robust.  But the addition of new planes would matter little with current flight limitations in Manila, he said.

PAL, for example, recently closed a deal to acquire six Airbus A350-900 long-range planes, some of which would be delivered two years from now.

“We cannot grow the market. We are taking delivery of more airplanes. If there is no infrastructure, our planes will just be parked and our investment will be wasted,” Bautista said.

The opportunity for growth was significant with the implementation of Open Skies within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations—a move that would further spur air travel growth in the region. Last Feb. 3, 2016, President Aquino signed protocols 5 and 6 of the Asean Multilateral Agreement in Air Services.

The policy would pave the way for Philippine air carriers to fly “unlimited frequencies” to and beyond the capital cities of the Asean.  This was also expected to lead to better and more efficient connectivity and translate to more competitive fares and services.

Clark Airport is often cited as an available alternative to Naia but it likewise lacks the proper mass transportation access to Metro Manila. Bautista agreed Clark Airport “should be developed further.”

“It’s ready but lacking some infrastructure, fuel facilities, and there should be more support industries like airline catering, airline ground handling, maintenance and engineering,” Bautista said.

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A number of proposals are on the table with regard to addressing congestion in Naia, including building a new international airport at a location less than 30 minutes away. Possible sites include Manila Bay and Sangley Point, Cavite.

The Department of Transportation and Communications last year also tapped the services of British firm NATS to help maximize the use of Naia’s primary runway. The objective was to increase by 50 percent the hourly air traffic movements, or the landing and takeoff activities, from the current 40 movements.

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TAGS: Airport, Business, economy, incoming President Rodrigo Duterte, News, PAL, Philippine Airlines
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