All low cost carriers proposed to transfer to Sangley Point to reduce congestion at NAIA‏

May 15, 2012 10:35 pm 

MANILA, May 15 — Association of Southeast Asian Nations/Airlines Operators Council (Asean/Aoc) on Tuesday has proposed to transfer all low cost carriers (LCC) operations, including General Aviation (GenAv), to Sangley Point, Cavite, to drastically reduce congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

“Traffic congestions at the Naia would be reduced by 15 to 40 percent if all LCC operations is transferred to Sangley Point,” said Onnie Nakpil, Asean/Aoc chairman.

He did not say how long the transfer would take because this is a job for the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) or the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

At present, the Naia is experiencing horrible congestion and could only accommodate about 27 runway occupancy, the technical term for combined takeoff and landing per hour.

The ideal should be about 40 aircraft to 60 aircraft per hour, or about one aircraft per minute.

As a temporary remedy, the Philippines, with the cooperation of the Manila International Authority Authority (MIAA), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the Civil Aeronautics Board (Cab) has allowed a Sydney-based company to dictate the slotting of schedules of all domestic aircraft at the NAIA.

Despite this, however, congestion remains a problem because the main disadvantage of the NAIA is that it has only one international runway and a shorter domestic runway.

All the world’s major airports have a minimum of two parallel runways, allowing for simultaneous landings and take-offs, according to CAAP Chief Ramon S. Gutierrez.

Some of Asia’s best airports like Hong Kong, Malaysia and Bangkok are already building a third runway.

At the moment, the NAIA’s combined air traffic is about 900 runway occupancy a day.

A reduction of 15 percent would leave 764 aircraft at the NAIA and at 40 percent, there would be a daily traffic of 540 airplanes, according to Nakpil, who used to be the chairman of the AOC, and chief security officer of Gulf Air. At this numbers, the NAIA would be at peak efficiency and there would be no congestion expected among the rest of the operators.

Nakpil said that this solution should be acceptable to the LCCs compared to Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas’ proposals to reduce all LCC flights at the NAIA to solve the current congestion.

Roxas' proposal was met with disbelief and negative reactions from the heads of the LCC. They asked why the government had urged the airline companies to expand and buy new aircraft a few years ago, only to limit their operations when tourists and the travelling public have come to accept air travel and a cheap and efficient way to travel.

Sangley Point is currently the home of the 15th Strike Wing of the Air Force. It is connected to Manila by a modern highway, the Cavite Expressway.

Red Cross Chairman and CEO, former Senator Richard Gordon urged the DOTC to accelerate efforts to decongest and upgrade the country’s airports to facilitate the movement of people and goods.

“The decongestion of our airports is urgently necessary particularly for the Red Cross which has to respond immediately to disasters and other emergencies even in far-flung areas,” Gordon said.

Gordon asked Roxas and his team to take a direct hand in solving the problem of airport congestion as this “affects not just the operations of the Red Cross and other humanitarian groups but the whole economy as well.”

The former senator said rescue and relief efforts of the Philippine Red Cross cannot wait nor be delayed because “lives are at stake.”

Gordon pointed out that the country is vulnerable to both natural and man-made disasters, such as typhoons that cause flooding and landslides that exact a heavy toll on lives and property and lead to displacement of many people from their homes.

He said, “the government should ensure that rescue and relief operations by the government and humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross can proceed unhampered.”

“Time is of the essence when disaster strikes. We cannot waste our time waiting for flights that are delayed or even cancelled due to airport congestion or breakdowns in airport equipment and facilities,” Gordon said. (PNA) DCT/LOR/OTO/utb

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