SONA 2016: Duterte eyes Sangley Point to help decongest NAIA

Chrisee Dela Paz
SONA 2016: Duterte eyes Sangley Point to help decongest NAIA

EPA

President Rodrigo Duterte also plans to transfer some commercial domestic operations of airlines to Clark International Airport

MANILA, Philippines – To help decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), President Rodrigo Duterte proposed a new runway in Sangley Point in Cavite built exclusively for general aviation activities – including air charter, air cargo, aviation training, aircraft maintenance, and corporate flight operations.

During his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 25, Duterte said his administration is considering transferring all general aviation activities from NAIA to Sangley Point.

General aviation, alam mo sino tinatamaan niyang [congestion]? Kayong mayayaman, ililipat ko kayo. (General aviation, do you know who will be affected by the congestion? Those who are rich. I’ll be transferring you.) I’m offering Sangley Point. I can make a new runway there. It can be Clark (in Pampanga) but we need a fast rail,” Duterte said during his speech.

Congestion at NAIA was in the spotlight again earlier this month, after one runway was temporarily closed for the repair of a 5-inch deep crack on the asphalt overlay. This led to 28 flight diversions and at least 40 cancelled flights.  (READ: Frustration, anger over NAIA runway closure)

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had recommended that the Philippine government use Sangley Point as the location for a new international gateway, which will support the congested NAIA.

Freeing up NAIA of general aviation activities would mean 18%-22% additional aviation space, said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.

Clark airport for commercial domestic flights

To futher address NAIA congestion, Duterte wants to move some commercial flights to Clark International Airport should there be a railway line.

“Clark can be used for domestic operations,” the President said during his first SONA.

In a separate forum, Tugade had asked local airline executives to transfer all their smaller turboprop aircraft to Clark 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 had said.

On the sidelines of the same forum, 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.

Cebu Pacific Air is the sole domestic airline with commercial operations in Clark.

International carriers operating in Clark airport are Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Tiger Air, Qatar Airways, and Asiana Airlines.

NAIA has been above its handling capacity of 28 million passengers annually. In 2015, passenger arrivals surged to 50,210. – Rappler.com

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