Roxas to airlines: No new flights at NAIA as congestion issues remain

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MANILA, Philippines – Transportation chief Mar Roxas said he asked the local airlines to re-align their domestic flight schedules and not to mount new or additional flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to help address the congestion problems at country’s main airport.

Roxas said he asked the airlines to reduce their domestic flights during peak hours — from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. — and transfer these to off-peak hours.

He also said he asked the airlines not to add more flights at NAIA while the government is studying proposed solutions. 

On Tuesday, May 8, Roxas called for a closed-door meeting with Philippine Airlines president Ramon Ang, Cebu Pacific Air CEO Lance Gokongwei and Zest Air board member Art Alejandrino to discuss solutions to the congestion problems at the country’s main gateway.

Roxas invited the top brass of the largest airline operators to the press conference afterwards.

Reduce or re-align?

Previously, the local airlines contested the decision of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) to reduce the number of  commercial flights taking off and landing at the NAIA runway.

There are over 40 flights an hour landing an taking off from NAIA, which has a criss-crossed 40’s-era runway. If general aviation standards are followed, there should be only 36.

“There are 48 flights (per hour) on a Tuesday but the system can only take 36,” Roxas said, adding that current 48 flights per hour translates to one flight taking-off or landing every 1.4 minute.

Roxas said this current number of runway movements translates to 12 delayed flights per hour. “These delayed flights will be transferred ot another slots, so the delays cascade to the next batches,” he said in mix English and Filipino.

The congestion at the runway results in flight delays, and trickles to further congestion at the airport terminals, which are themselves already operating beyond capacity.

“Domestic flights account for 80 of load of runway,” noted Roxas. “This is the biggest part of the challenge, so we will cut in that area.”

Commercial flights vs. private jets

The airlines have suggested that the government should transfer the general aviation operations, including private jets of the country’s richest and flying schools, which take up around 17% of the runway movements.

President Aquino said on the weekend that general aviation would be transferred to Sangley Point in Cavite in June to ease the congestion at NAIA. –

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