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Sangley upgrade 50% finished

Transfer of general aviation, turboprop flights to ease congestion at Naia

The construction of additional facilities in Sangley airport, which is being upgraded to handle generation aviation and commercial turboprop flights to help decongest Manila’s busy air gateway, is almost halfway finished.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced on Friday that new facilities would include a passenger terminal building, hangars and a drainage system at Sangley airport, located in the Cavite Peninsula about 11 kilometers west of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia). The extension of its runway to 2,300 meters was completed early this year.

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Thus far, the DOTr said the upgrades, which started in late 2018, were about 49-percent complete. It is targeting to finish the new facilities by December this year. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade led the inspection of Sangley airport on Friday along with the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy.

Sangley airport, a former Philippine Air Force base, was again in the news after President Duterte ordered that it be opened up to wider operations to decongest Naia.

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The directive followed Mr. Duterte’s surprise visit to Naia hours after a lightning storm delayed and diverted dozens of domestic and international flights on Sunday night, affecting thousands of incoming and outbound passengers.

Moving general aviation out of Naia will allow more commercial flights since these smaller aircraft compete with larger-capacity planes for runway time during certain hours of the day.

Commercial flights, however, would be limited to only smaller turboprop planes due to Sangley airport’s close proximity to Naia’s airspace, Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Tamayo said in an interview.

Sangley Airport remains a strategic location and has been identified by the Japan International Cooperation Agency as a viable alternative to Naia.

The plan to transfer Naia’s general aviation flights to Sangley airport was launched during the term of former President Aquino. However, the initiative was never fully implemented.

“We initiated discussions for this with the Air Force sometime in 2014 to 2015 but ran out of time to meet the prerequisites of providing new facilities for the Air Force and upgrading Sangley’s infrastructure,” said Michael Sagcal, a former transportation department spokesperson during the Aquino administration and now Philippines country head of infrastructure consultancy firm Astris Finance.

Apart from the government’s activities in Sangley airport, the Cavite provincial government said it would pursue a proposal to transform the gateway into a $10-billion international air hub. This will include a massive land reclamation component and will be partly funded by Chinese companies.

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TAGS: Department of Transportation (DOTr), generation aviation and commercial turboprop flights, Sangley airport
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