DoTr addresses airport congestion, flight delays

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Sangley Airport in Cavite.

Airlines have agreed to cooperate with the Department of Transportation (DoTr) in decongesting the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) by moving general aviation and turboprop operations to Sangley and Clark airports.

DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said Thursday domestic airlines will be notified to fully relocate in a year’s time to Clark International Airport (CRK) in Pampanga and Sangley Airports to free up space in the four terminals of the NAIA to allow for improvements and additions in the main gateway.

Officials from the DoTr, aviation agencies and domestic airlines reached the deal in a meeting Thursday. At the meeting were Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Director General Jim Sydiongco, Civil Aeronautics Board Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla, Michael Tan of Philippine Airlines, Lance Gokongwei of Cebu Pacific, and Capt. Dexter Comendador of AirAsia.

“It was a productive and mutually beneficial meeting. Airlines expressed their willingness and commitment to support the government’s thrust to utilize Sangley Airport. This is a solid demonstration of their trust and confidence in the administration of President Duterte,” Tugade said.

The secretary said airline companies will sign a Pledge of Commitment and Support on 24 June 2019 as a manifestation of cooperation with the government’s move to address aviation concerns holistically.

, Tugade pointed out that the DoTr is working on a basket of solutions to decongest the NAIA, through airport infrastructure developments in Clark and Sangley, and the construction of the New Manila International Airport in Bulacan.

“Kombinasyon ng samu’t saring pamamaraan ang kailangan para maibsan ang congestion sa NAIA 1, 2, 3 at 4. We have to have a basket of approaches, hindi iisang solusyon lang dahil talagang napakaraming pasahero,” the transportation chief said in a radio interview earlier Thursday.

On Friday, Tugade will visit Sangley Airport to inspect the progress of its construction, as well as to determine the landing berth for the ferry operations.

Meanwhile, positive actions to address passenger discomfort in case of delays were also discussed in the meeting, including the imposition of penalties for flight delays attributed to airlines.

In recent years, NAIA saw a substantial increase in the number of passengers, flights, and airport slots per hour, resulting in a distressing state of congestion. Prior to 2016, NAIA passenger traffic was at 36.5 million. By 2018, the figure has increased to 45 million, or an upsurge of 8.4 million passengers (23.08 percent).

During the same period, the number of flights also grew by over 14,000 (5.75 percent), and airport slots per hour have increased from 36 to 44 (22.22%).

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