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Gov’t still pursuing new int’l gateway plan

/ 05:06 AM September 21, 2016

A brand new international airport to serve Metro Manila is still in the cards, with the construction of a new facility likely to begin during the term of the Duterte administration, a government official said Tuesday.

Roberto Lim, undersecretary for aviation at the Department of Transportation, said the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) was currently completing a comprehensive study, which would identify, among other items, the best location for an international air gateway.

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He said that earlier plans revealed by the Aquino administration for a new international airport in the Sangley Airbase in Cavite were not yet final. Other locations, including the Laguna Lake area, are being studied by Jica, he added.

Lim said the plan was to eventually build a new international air gateway and replace Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which had been suffering from congestion and where expansion options were limited.

He said the government was targeting to at least “substantially start” work on a new international airport by 2022, or at the end of President Duterte’s term.

Jica initially estimated the cost of a new international gateway at P435.9 billion.

In the meantime, the Naia handled more than 36 million passengers last year, exceeding its  “design capacity” of 31 million passengers yearly.

San Miguel Corp. earlier suggested that the government build the new airport on reclaimed land on Manila Bay. However, Lim said SMC had yet to make a formal proposal.

Earlier efforts to position Clark International Airport in Pampanga as an alternative to Naia have been unsuccessful, given its distance from Metro Manila and the lack of mass transport options.

According to Jica’s initial review, the Sangley International Airport would be able handle about 55 million passengers per year when it opens in 2025, which together with the existing Naia in Manila would be enough to meet the area’s estimated demand of 59.1 million passengers.

The Sangley facility can even be expanded to handle 130 million passengers annually by 2050, Jica noted.

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Lim noted that while a new international airport would be pursued, their near-term priority was addressing air traffic congestion at Naia. This included increasing aircraft movements per hour.  Last week, the National Economic and Development Authority board approved the P74.56-billion Naia development project.

According to the PPP Center, the project “will improve, upgrade and enhance the operational efficiencies of all existing terminals” at Naia.

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