Sangley airport as 3rd NAIA runway?

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While the proposed new airport is being developed, a Japanese agency suggests it can be used as a 3rd runway for congested NAIA

MANILA, Philippines – The proposed new airport in Sangley Point, Cavite could use the same air traffic control tower as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) until it can be completely developed, suggested an international aid agency to the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is currently working with the DOTC on options for the development of a new airport to cater to Metro Manila and surrounding provinces.

Its latest suggestion would turn the former US naval facility into an extension of NAIA, at least until 2025 when more concrete plans would have been made for the new airport.

“In effect, the new Sangley airport will be NAIA’s ‘third runway’ until greater expansion can be made in the long-term,” said DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya.

The proposal would speed up the upgrading of the existing Sangley airport, currently used by the Philippine military, and significantly lower its cost, Abaya added.

Instead of reclaming in order to build 3 to 4 runways, only one to two runways would have to be constructed, bringing JICA’s initial cost estimate of US$10 billion (P435 billion).

JICA’s suggestion creates an alternative to simply closing down NAIA and moving all operations to the Sangley airport with its targeted 4 runways. NAIA has only two right now.

This alternative is to keep NAIA open while also using a Sangley airport with just two or 3 runways – a dual-airport system.

Exploring more options

With no finalized plans yet, the DOTC and JICA continue to explore more options for the country’s airport roadmap.

These efforts are based on a 2011 JICA study that identified 8 sites best suited for a new airport. Sangley Point topped the list based on criteria like catchment area, navigation risk, natural hazard risk, and accessibility. 

The 8 sites considered were:

  • Angat-Pandi-Bustos
  • Obando
  • North Manila Bay
  • Central Manila Bay
  • Sangley Point
  • San Nicholas Shoals
  • West Laguna Lake
  • Rizal-Talim Island

West Laguna Lake and Central Manila Bay ranked 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

The DOTC is now preparing a feasibility study, to be ready by 2015, for the proposed Sangley airport.

Other proposals welcome

Though DOTC is pursuing JICA recommendations, the transport agency is still open to other proposals such as the $10-billion (P435 billion) airport proposed by San Miguel Corporation (SMC).

The proposal, presented to President Benigno Aquino III last May, details an 800-hectare airport located along the Manila-Cavite coastal road. The property is owned by Cyber Bay Corporation, which is controlled by SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang.

Both the DOTC and SMC plans aim to address growing passenger volume in the country and upgrade airport terminals consistently named the worst in the world.

JICA projects passengers from the greater capital region to hit 106.7 million by 2040 from 31.88 million in 2012. – 

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