MANILA, Philippines – With the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) bursting at the seams, the transportation chief targets to finalize in 90 days his department’s plans to build a standard train that will connect passengers from Manila to Clark International Airport.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on Tuesday night, July 19, publicly asked for airlines’ cooperation to transfer smaller turbo propeller planes to Clark airport.
To make this viable, Tugade said his department will provide connectivity using a standard train or a connector road. (READ: Frustration, anger over NAIA runway closure)
“Clark will be reachable either by road or by train. By road, we have to recognize [Metro Manila] Skyway [Stage] 3 and the Connector Road because that will bring you somewhere in Bulacan, so it gives connectivity,” Tugade said during the networking event organized by World Trade Center Manila in Pasay City.
The Skyway 3 deal is an elevated expressway from Buendia in Makati City to Balintawak in Quezon City.
Meanwhile, the Metro Pacific group’s North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) Connector Road project will link Circumferencial Road 3 in Caloocan City and Skyway 3.
“Connectivity using the train, we will do that by using Philippine National Railways (PNR) alignment or those of the NLEX. One thing I want to do is a standard train,” Tugade said.
He added that the rail project is being studied by the National Economic and Development Authority, and will be formalized by his department in 90 days.
On Monday, July 18, a NAIA runway was temporarily closed for the repair of a 5-inch deep crack on the asphalt overlay, leading to 28 flight diversions and at least 40 cancelled flights.
A lesson learned
“Although it was irritatingly painful, it was also a learning experience. We will not allow for it to happen again,” Tugade told some business leaders.
To help decongest NAIA, Tugade said businessmen Lucio Tan and Lance Gokongwei last week agreed to move their helicopters out of NAIA.
The transportation chief then asked local airline executives present at the forum to transfer all their turboprop aircraft to the Clark International Airport from NAIA.
“I will also be requesting the airlines. I hope I’m not preempting the meeting being arranged. I am asking for them to transfer all their turbo props in Clark,” Tugade said.
On the sidelines of the event, Philippine Airlines president Jaime Bautista said his airline will study Tugade’s proposal.
“We are studying its impact to our passengers. Turbo props coming from far-flung places will do. But if it’s coming from nearby places like Masbate, they won’t ride with us na. We will work with them,” Bautista said after the briefing.
The transportation department’s other initiatives to decongest NAIA include regulating general aviation during peak hours and equipping airports with night-rated capabilities.
NAIA has been above its handling capacity of 28 million passengers annually. In 2015, passenger arrivals surged to 50,210. – Rappler.com