Gokongwei: No magic pill for NAIA congestion

Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei says the best solution to the problem is developing new airports outside Manila, which will take time

MANILA, Philippines – Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei said Thursday, May 3, there’s no easy way to reduce congestion at the country’s main airport as the best solution to the problem will require a lot of time and capital.

Gokongwei said the government must develop airports outside Manila, including the one located in Clark, Pampanga. He said the government can then transfer flights from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to other airports.

“The government is taking steps to improve infrastructure. Clearly, there’s a need to develop other gateways as well,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the 45th annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Board of Governors.

Gokongwei’s statements came amid a government plan to scale down the number of flights at NAIA to ease runway traffic, which often results in delayed or cancelled flights.

Gokongwei was noncommittal when asked if Cebu Pacific would be willing to reduce its flights.

But he said the budget carrier has already taken measures to help decongest NAIA — one  is flying overseas from many provincial airports.

“I think congestion is certainly an issue. There’s no magic pill, but there is cooperation between the private sector and government agencies,” noted Gokongwei.

The Philippine government has been eyeing to make Clark the country’s premier gateway and shift some NAIA flights there.

Key to this plan is a rail project in the North that will connect Clark to the capital Manila. However, the project, which was inked with a Chinese contractor during the Arroyo administration, was suspended for having provisions that were disadvantageous to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, aside from Clark, the government has lined up a number of airports for development under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.

Bid for PPPs

When asked if his group will invest in building new airports, Gokongwei said they have already expressed interest to bid for PPP projects.

The planned airport projects under the PPP program include the following:

  • P4.6-billion Puerto Princesa Airport; 
  • P8.7-billion Laguindingan Airport development in Cagayan de Oro;
  • P6.6-billion New Legaspi Airport development; and
  • P2.5-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport terminal building expansion.


“We will certainly take a close look at these,” Gokongwei said. – Rappler.com

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