DOTC issues measures to address NAIA runway congestion

May 8, 2012 10:47 pm 

MANILA, May 8 — The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) on Tuesday announced several measures to address current runway congestion issues at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport due to the growing air transport industry in the country.

“We have a runway congestion problem today… Hindi natin namalayan na may runway traffic na umusbong sa pagdami ng mga aircraft population at flight schedules sa loob ng nakaraang mga taon,” said Manuel "Mar" Roxas, DOTC secretary.

Statistics gathered by DOTC show that air fleet population of commercial airlines today has doubled to 119 compared to only 62 in 2008.

As of 2006, these aircrafts also serviced 18 million total passengers and went up to 30 million last year. Aircraft movements or take offs and landings at NAIA also went up to 255,000 in 2011 compared to 171,000 in 2006.”

NAIA’s runways can only accommodate an average of 36 events (takeoffs and landings) per hour, but actual scheduled commercial and general aviation flights, including fish runs, went to as high as 50 events per hour during daytime this summer passenger season, causing a congested runway resulting in flight delays and cancellations.

Roxas said based on discussion and cooperation with various airline companies, the DOTC has come up with a number of immediate short-term and long-term measures in increasing the capacity of NAIA’s runway and demand management redistribution.

First, Roxas said NAIA will be declared a “Captain’s Runway,” meaning only captains can operate a takeoff or landing on the runway. Currently, first officers are allowed to facilitate flight takeoff of an aircraft as part of their training. With this measure, only the pilot-in-command shall have full control during takeoffs and landings, ensuring that a flight is within the average of 100 seconds/movement.

As part of re-distributing the demand, DOTC is transferring commercial flights to and from night-rated to airports that have night landing capabilities. Aside from Manila, airports that have night landing capabilities are Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod, Kalibo, Tacloban, Puerto Princesa, Zamboanga, General Santos and Laoag.

Roxas said that airlines have agreed to conduct a study to adjust their schedules in order to transfer most of their flights to night-rated airports instead of lumping them all during daytime.

He said this would not happen immediately because the airline companies had already sold a lot of tickets for future flights but this would happen in due time.

Complimenting this measure is making 14 more provincial airports to be night-rated.

These airports are Tagbilaran, Legazpi, Dumaguete, Butuan, Ozamis, Cotabato, Naga, Dipolog, Roxas, Pagadian, Tuguegarao, Busuanga, Surigao and San Jose, Mindoro. Estimated budget needed to night-rate these 14 airports is about P800 million, exclusive of operational expenses.

Another measure is the lowering of fees for takeoffs and landings at nighttime and increasing them at daytime. Fees for slots at 7 am to 6 pm will double while fees for slots at 8 pm to 6 am will decrease by 25 percent.

MIAA General Manager Angel Honrado said the Authority is also discussing with the Department of National Defense to transfer all general aviation flights to Sangley Point in Cavite City within a month. There are 82 general aviation flights per day in NAIA, including fish runs. This measure will help decongest NAIA runway.

Tourism flights, such those going to Amanpulo, Batanes, or El Nido will only be allowed one cycle (1 landing and 1 takeoff) per company, within the peak period of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Right now, tourism flights are not limited. With this measure, it is expected to save an extra 5 to 7 flights a day.

To enhance the runway’s capacity, Roxas said the construction of two rapid exit taxiways worth P300 million each is being fast-tracked and is expected for completion early next year.

This will boost the airports flight handling capacity from 36 to a target of 45 events. At 36 events, aircraft exits the runway in one minute and 40 seconds while at 45 events, aircraft exits the runway in one minute twenty seconds.

Commercial flight arrivals and departures will also be batched or grouped together to improve runway usage. The plan is from 7am-7:15 am, 10 takeoffs will be allowed followed by 10 landings at 7:15 to 7:30 am. This translates to an additional 2 to 4 movements per hour. (PNA)

DCT/DGA/PR/utb

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