Gov’t drive up vs hoarders of NAIA landing, takeoff slots
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is again running after airlines that are hoarding takeoff and landing slots as passenger numbers in Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) hit a new record.
Days after President Duterte complained about delayed flights, the DOTr on Thursday issued a new set of guidelines, formally known as Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2019-01, that expanded the scope of a previous set of rules.
Signed by officials of the DOTr, Manila International Airport Authority, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the Civil Aeronautics Board, the rules also outlined heavier penalties for the airlines.
“To intentionally disregard the value of these airport slots is unethical and an aggravation to the current state of congestion at Naia. We have to recognize the domino effects of these slot misuses, which ultimately result in the massive inconvenience to our air passengers,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement.
Airlines holding slots they do not intend to use or keeping the same to deny their use by rival carriers will be counted as cases of misuse, the DOTr said. The same goes for requesting new slots for hoarding purposes or to gain improved priority.
Airport authorities currently follow a “use it or lose it” principle when it comes to slot allocations. However, the issuance of the new rules suggests weak regulatory teeth in implementing this policy.
The DOTr said JMC 2019-01 expanded the scope of a previous set of guidelines released on July 21, 2016.
Congestion issues in Naia—a perennial problem that current and previous administrations had been slow to address— were amplified by increasing demand for air services.
From 36.5 million passengers in 2016, passenger volume handled by Naia swelled to 45 million in 2018. Naia is designed to handle about 31 million passengers yearly. During this period, airport slots per hour increase from 36 to 44, the DOTr added.
Penalties under JMC 2019-01 include the loss of historic or “grandfather rights” for either the actual times they operated or for the allocated times.
Airlines may also be given lower priority to future slot allocations or face the loss or suspension of the same. Penalties will be initiated either by the slot coordinator or the time slot committee.
Earlier calls to reform the airport slot process were included in a policy brief authored by Maria Cherry Lyn Rodolfo, a member of the Export Development Council Networking Committee on Transport and Logistics. The brief was presented to business groups in February 2017.
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