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Gov’t to proceed with multi-airport plan

/ 05:00 AM August 25, 2018

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) reiterated its commitment to pursue a so-called multi-airport strategy for Metro Manila and nearby areas in the wake of the recent Xiamen Air incident, which paralyzed Manila’s main gateway for more than a day and a half last week.

The DOTr said in a statement Friday that at least two new proposed air gateways were being “prioritized.” These are the new international airport offers in Bulakan, Bulacan and Sangley, Cavite.

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Under the multi-airport airport approach, the DOTr will allow the construction of new airports to support the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), which suffers from worsening congestion, and Pampanga’s Clark International Airport, where capacity expansion is underway.

The DOTr said unsolicited airport offers would be allowed as long as these required no subsidies and guarantees from the national government.

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“The idea of having multiple airports is something that the world’s biggest economies do. Ideally, there should be a train service linking these airports, which is also being pursued by the government,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement.

“This complementation strategy was already part of the air transport roadmap from day one, and rest assured, that’s what we are going to do,” he added.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), however, remained skeptical of the plan. The trade body of the world’s airlines said a multi-airport approach required further study.

“Having a multi-airport operation can be complicated,” Vinoop Goel, regional director for airports and external relations, said in an e-mail to the Inquirer.

He explained that the government should undertake “adequate analysis and consultation” on access, capacity and cost issues.

“Developing an aviation master plan for Manila in consultation with the airlines will help resolve this,” Goel said.

The proposals for Bulacan and Sangley came from conglomerate San Miguel Corp. and the Cavite provincial government, respectively. Moreover, the DOTr said it had awarded a consortium of seven conglomerates an original proponent status to proceed with their offer to modernize and operate Naia for a period of 15 years.

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The DOTr said SMC’s Bulacan proposal could proceed with a Swiss Challenge once the concession agreement has been finalized. The Sangley airport offer from the Cavite government can move forward once its legal framework has been determined, the department said.

Upon full completion, the Bulacan and Sangley airports will each have up to four parallel runways and a capacity of more than 100 million passengers a year.

In a statement, conglomerate San Miguel Corp. said it received on Aug. 22 the consolidated comments from the Department of Finance and National Economic and Development Authority on the draft concession agreement “after more than three months of waiting.”

“SMC is looking forward to completing the process, and finalizing the agreement with DOTr at the soonest time possible,” SMC said.

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TAGS: Department of Transportation, multi-airport plan, Xiamen Air
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