Air Asia Cancels Over 80 Flights Due to APEC

Cancelled Air Asia Philippines flights:


November 17, 2015  (34 domestic flights)

Z2 711 and Z2 722 Manila-Kalibo-Manila

Z2 352 and Z2 353 Manila-Tagbilaran-Manila

Z2 767 and Z2 768 Manila-Cebu-Manila

Z2 424 and Z2 425 Manila-Puerto Princesa-Manila

Z2 430 and Z2 431 Manila-Puerto Princesa-Manila

Z2 773 and Z2 774 Manila-Cebu-Manila

Z2 354 and Z2 355 Manila-Tagbilaran-Manila

Z2 782 and Z2 783 Cebu-Manila-Cebu

Z2 300 and Z2 301 Manila-Kalibo-Manila

Z2 765 and Z2 766 Manila-Cebu-Manila

Z2 320 and Z2 321 Manila-Tacloban-Manila

Z2 775 and Z2 776 Manila-Cebu-Manila

Z2 272 and Z2 273 Manila-Kalibo-Manila

Z2 350 and Z2 351 Manila-Tagbilaran-Manila

Z2 324 and Z2 325 Manila-Tacloban-Manila

Z2 420 and Z2 421 Manila-Puerto Princesa-Manila

Z2 612 and Z2 613 Davao-Manila-Davao

November 18, 2015  (14 domestic flights)
Z2 711 and Z2 712 Manila-Kalibo-Manila

Z2 773 and Z2 774 Manila-Cebu-Manila

Z2 354 and Z2 355 Manila-Tagbilaran-Manila

Z2 320 and Z2 321 Manila-Tacloban-Manila

Z2 775 and Z2 776 Manila-Cebu-Manila

Z2 350 and Z2 351 Manila-Tagbilaran-Manila

Z2 427 Puerto Princesa-Manila

Z2 424 Manila-Puerto Princesa

 November 19, 2015  (14 domestic and 10 international flights)
Z2 713 Manila-Kalibo

Z2 273 Kalibo-Manila

Z2 352 and Z2 353 Manila-Tagbilaran-Manila

Z2 767 and Z2 768 Manila-Cebu-Manila

Z2 715 and Z2 716 Manila-Kalibo-Manila

Z2 327 and Z2 328 Manila-Tacloban-Manila

Z2 771 and Z2 772 Manila-Cebu-Manila

Z2 614 and Z2 615 Davao-Manila-Davao

Z2 420 and Z2 421 Manila-Puerto Princesa-Manila

Z2 1264 and Z2 1265 Manila-Hong Kong-Manila

Z2 90 and Z2 91 Manila-Macau-Manila

Z2 884 and Z2 885 Manila-Incheon-Manila

Z2 940 and Z2 941 Manila-Kuala Lumpur-Manila
November 20, 2015  (12 domestic flights)

Z2 426 and Z2 427 Manila-Puerto Princesa-Manila

Z2 763 and Z2 764 Manila-Cebu-Manila

Z2 715 and Z2 716 Manila-Kalibo-Manila

Z2 765 and Z2 766 Manila-Cebu-Manila

Z2 420 and Z2 421 Manila-Puerto Princesa-Manila

Z2 780 and Z2 781 Cebu-Manila-Cebu
Cebu Pacific Cancelled Flights:

AirAsia Philippines Gets P3 Billion More To Expand Route, Fleet Upgrade

SHAREHOLDERS of budget-carrier operator Philippines AirAsia Inc. are infusing more money into the airline for next year, increasing the firm’s capital stock to P5 billion to finance the lease of five more aircraft for 2016.

Over lunch on Tuesday, Philippines AirAsia CEO Joy D. Caneba said her carrier’s board has approved a capital infusion of up to P3 billion for 2016, an amount that will be used for the route and fleet expansion programs of the budget carrier.

“The stockholders have approved a capital increase of up to P5 billion for next year,” she said.

“The capital call is within the existing shareholders only. But we welcome new investors.”

Currently, the company has a capital of P2 billion.

“I think by the first quarter of next year, the new capital will be in place, but we will have it in tranches. I don’t see all the additional increase will come in one tranche, but it will be sufficient to cover the growth expansion for next year,” she said.

The company will take delivery of five new A320s by next year, all leased by its parent company in Malaysia, AirAsia Bhd. All of these will be used for the carrier’s regional expansion to China and South Korea.

“China and the Philippines is a natural route combination, and the yield for that market is doing good. Our market in China is doing very, very well, too. We also plan to open Taipei on top of our Macau and Hong Kong flights,” Caneba said.

The carrier has also retired three of its planes, as the management aligns the image of the the Filipino carrier with its Malaysian parent.

It started operating with 12 planes—from 15 aircraft in January—this month.

With this, operations on certain routes will have to be lessened, thus, Caneba expects to stay in the red for this year.

This also pulls down Philippines AirAsia’s plan of conducting an initial public offering (IPO) by 2017.

“The IPO will definitely happen, but I think we will have to defer it to 2018 because refleeting set us back,” she said.

The company aims to raise as much as $200 million through its stock-exchange debut. It plans to have a public float of about 30 percent. “It’s a primary issuance,” Caneba added. “The IPO will be in the first quarter of 2018.”

Philippines AirAsia used to operate with two air operators certificate—one for AirAsia Zest and another for AirAsia Philippines.

Just recently, the Civil Aeronautics Board approved its petition to operate as a single company with just a single certificate.

The Securities and Exchange Commission issued a certificate approving the name Philippines AirAsia Inc. “doing business under the name and style of the AirAsia Berhad.”

The airline, considered as the third small player in the Philippine aviation market, operates out of Manila, Cebu and Kalibo.

Source: Lorenz S. Marasigan,

San Miguel To Finish NAIA Toll Road In May, 2016

Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. said Monday it may complete the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway toll road in either April or May yet because of right-of-way problems.

Image Source: MB File Photo

San Miguel Holdings Corp. chief finance officer Raoul Eduardo Romulo said in an interview at the sidelines of the 41st Philippine Business Conference right of way problems had delayed the project by 12 months. The Naia Expressway project was originally scheduled to open this month.

Romulo said the project could be further delayed because of work stoppage during the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Conference in November.

“We will endeavor to make it April or May,” Romulo said.

“But with the Apec they [government] are making us stop work for entire seven days. The impact of that in real time is 13.5 days. But with out catch up plan, we will be able to reduce the 12-month delay by six months,” he said.

The Naia Expressway is about 40 percent complete.

The P15.52-billion Naia Expressway project is a four-lane, 7.15-kilometer elevated expressway that aims to provide easy access to and from the three Naia terminals and link the Skyway and the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway.

The project will interconnect the South Luzon Expressway-Skyway to the Cavitex, Macapagal Boulevard and the Entertainment City of state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

San Miguel Holdings is facing ROW problems in a number of key areas, including Villamor Airbase, Naia Road, Tambo and locations along the Quirino to Roxas Boulevard stretch, which government has not delivered so far.

Alec Cruz, head of tollway project of San Miguel Holdings, earlier said the ROW issues had made it “very difficult” to complete the project before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Manila.

He said the Public Works Department must deliver about 20 percent to 25 percent of the ROW requirements to complete the project by October.

“We’d also like to ask for the cooperation of utility companies such as Meralco [Manila Electric Co.], the telecommunications companies and businesses in the area whose facilities need to be relocated to make way for the construction,” Cruz said.

Aside from the Naia Expressway, another San Miguel infrastructure project facing delay is the P26.5-billion ($592.01 million) toll road project connecting the South Luzon expressway to the North Luzon expressway.

Just like Naia Expressway, Romulo said the connector road was facing delays because right of way problems.

The project aims to decongest the major roads of Metro Manila, specially Edsa and C5, and reduce travel time from Buendia to Balintawak in Quezon City to 20 minutes or less from two hours.

It will link the South and North Luzon Expressways through eight strategic interchanges in Buendia, President Quirino Avenue, Plaza Dilao and Nagtahan, Aurora Boulevard, E. Rodriguez Avenue, Quezon Avenue, Sgt. Rivera and Balintawak.

The project, which is expected to be completed in 2017, also aims to stimulate the growth of trade and industry in the southern, central and northern Luzon areas.

Source: Jenniffer B. Austria,

New NAIA To Be Operational In 2 Decades

Manila Bay or Sangley Point?

MANILA, Philippines — It will take two decades before passengers coming in and out of the country can experience the planned Manila’s new international airport.

This is what Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said on Tuesday, October 27, when asked for updates on plans to replace Manila’s dilapidated Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Based on the latest discussions with JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), it will take two decades from feasibility study to actual operations of the New NAIA,” Balisacan said in a media briefing in Ortigas district.

JICA is being commissioned by the Philippine government to explore possible locations for the New NAIA project.

The chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) added that JICA is targeting to come up with the full feasibility study of the new Manila airport “by early next year.”

During a forum in Manila last week, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said on the sidelines that his department could endorse to the NEDA Board two possible sites for the new NAIA: the reclamation area in Manila Bay and the naval station in Sangley Point in Cavite.

“The difference between the two is that Sangley will cost about $10 billion, while the Manila Bay area is at around $13 billion,” Abaya told reporters last week.

For Balisacan, “Cost is one of the major considerations. But what we are really pushing is for Metro Manila to become more livable through projects like this.”

A mix of financing options

In a copy of JICA’s discussion paper on its New NAIA proposal obtained by reporters in June last year, the agency said “there will be 3 sources of funds — the public sector, ODA and the private sector” to “arrive at a workable project package.”

JICA told the local Transportation department that “the national government should consider availing of official development assistance (ODA) loans” from the Japanese agency.

These loans, according to JICA, would have preferential terms, such as an interest rate of from 0.55% to 1.40% denominated in Japanese yen (inclusive of government guarantees and foreign exchange risk cover), 40-year repayment, and 10-year grace period on the principal repayment.

JICA added in its discussion paper that the applicable interest rate will be 1.4% as there will be no need for an intermediary as the Japanese government will be dealing directly with the Philippine government.

A segment under PPP

The Japanese agency said that another source of financing for the project could be a private sector proponent under the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.

The private sector partner “should have substantial financial resources at its disposal” due to the huge capital requirements of the project, JICA said.

Another source of project financing, JICA proposed, is through a combination of national government funds in the form of viability gap funding, a special infrastructure allotment, and funds from the implementing agencies and select stakeholders.

Viability gap funding in a PPP project means the government would fund the gap and give the money to the concessionaire.

For beyond 2025, the transportation department said that the government will have two options: to close NAIA once the new international airport is expanded into a four-runway airport or retain the dual-airport system and develop NAIA into a two- to three-runway airport.

Source: Chrisee Dela Paz,

Lucio Tan Group Wants Philippine Airlines Foreign Investor In By 2017

“I want PAL to be a 5-star airline, with good service from the time they buy their ticket to the time they get their baggage from the carousel,” PAL Holdings president and COO Jaime Bautista.

MANILA, Philippines – The group of mogul Lucio C. Tan plans to sell up to 40% of the country’s oldest airline Philippine Airlines Incorporated (PAL) to a foreign investor by 2017 – before it triples its public float.

It was in November 2014 – weeks after the exit of San Miguel Corporation – when PAL Holdings President and COO Jaime Bautista first spoke about his group’s plans to have a foreign strategic investor to help manage the then-struggling airline.

Asked for an update, Bautista said last week that his company “would want to have a strategic partner before we do additional public offering for PAL. PAL Holdings is controlled by the Lucio Tan group so we’re looking for a possible strategic partner that could help management.”

PAL Holdings plans to increase its 10.22% public float once it secures a strategic investor, which according to Bautista, could be “late 2017”.

PAL’s Bautista said, “Under the Philippine Law, foreign investors are allowed up to 40%, so [we are willing to sell] up to 40%.”

Bautista added that the entry of a foreign investor will allow PAL to join an alliance and increase its market value.

“Right now, we will need a strategic investor. Hopefully, from the same industry, but covering different regions so it can give us more connections,” Bautista said, adding that “it does not have to be an airline, too.”

PAL, which just ended 2014 in the black, had limited its foreign partnership to just code-sharing with airlines such as Etihad Airways and Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA).

“We don’t need that additional equity. But as we expand, in about two years, we’ll want to buy new airplanes, and that we will require equity infusion,” Bautista told reporters last year in a media briefing.

The group of Tan in 2014 borrowed from a syndicate of banks to partly finance the $1-billion deal to buy out San Miguel from the airline. San Miguel owned 49% of the parent of the listed holding company, PAL Holdings, that in turn controls around 90% of the airline.

With management control back to PAL, Bautista said he is making the airline more attractive for the entry of a new foreign partner.

Asked if his company is already in talks with any prospects, Bautista said, “Not yet. Nothing concrete yet.”

PAL in June secured a deal to lease two Boeing 777-300ERs to boost its operations to the US and London.

The two new Boeing planes bring to 78 the total number of PAL’s fleet. These jets will be acquired by way of an agreement between leasing firm Intrepid Aviation and PAL.

Currently, PAL has 6 Boeing 777-300ERs, currently serving the Manila-San Francisco and Manila-Los Angeles routes.

“I want PAL to be a 5-star airline, with good service from the time they buy their ticket to the time they get their baggage from the carousel,” Bautista said.

Source: Chrisee Dela Paz,

Indonesian Haze Spreads Throughout Southeast Asia

Smoke from raging forest and peat fires in Indonesia’s Kalimantan region has begun to spread across the region with reports that airfields as far away as the Philippines have been forced to close owing to poor visibility conditions.

According to the AFP, airports on the central Filipino islands of Cebu and Negros have experienced severe delays with both Philippine Airlines (PR, Manila) and Cebu Pacific Air (5J, Manila) temporarily suspending flights to Cotabato, Dumaguete and General Santos earlier this month. Operations at the country’s main Manila hub have also been disrupted.

Image Source:

Airports at Clark, Cotabato, Davao, Cagayan de Oro Laguindingan, General Santos, and Zamboanga in Mindanao, and Cebu and Busuanga in central Philippines have also grounded all aircraft incapable of instrument approach landings as a precaution.

In Indonesia, the effect is more pronounced with local carriers such as KalStar (KD, Berau) having cancelled over 1,000 flights over the past month following the closure of airports at Pontianak, Sintang, Pangkalanbun, Balikpapan, Malak, Samarinda, Tanjung Selor, Tarakan, and Malinau.

Indonesia has appealed to the international community to assist it in fighting the fires which have been burning now for the last four months. Russia has so far sent in two Beriev Be-200 waterbombers while the Singapore Air Force (Singapore Changi) has dispatched Chinook helicopters to fight fires in Sugihan, Ogan Ogan Ilir, and South Sumatra. Australia also supplied a Lockheed Hercules for a brief period.


Review Urged on PPP Policy on Airline Entities

A HOUSE committee has advised the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to review the policy limiting the participation of airline-related entities in auctions for airport projects.

Bacolod Silay Airport

“The committee finds the need for DoTC and CAAP to revisit the provisions of the policy… imposing limitation on participation of airline-related entities in the bidding of regional airport projects and other future airport projects,” said Catanduanes Rep. Cesar V. Sarmiento, chairman of the House committee on transportation, in Committee Report 905 submitted early this month.

In August, the committee conducted an investigation into the alleged discrimination of airline-related entities in the bidding of airport projects.

In its report, the panel said the clear motive of the imposition of the 33% ceiling on the participation of airlines and airline-related entities in airport operations is to “prevent discriminatory practices against other airlines by the one which will be awarded with the concession agreement.”

“However, the DoTC and CAAP failed to show any basis for this fear during the deliberation,” the report said, adding that the situation the agencies seek to avoid is “precisely what the airlines and airline-related entities have been experiencing by the implementation of the questioned bidding rules.”

The report further noted that DoTC and CAAP’s “unsupported apprehensions are speculative and hypothetical whereas the discriminatory restrictions imposed on participation of airlines and related entities in the bidding of airport projects [are] crystal clear.”

There are ongoing procurement procedures for the regional airport projects — among them, Bacolod-Silay, Iloilo, Davao, Laguindingan and New Bohol — by the Public-Pivate Partnership (PPP) Center and DoTC.

The instructions to prospective bidders for the projects contain restrictions on the participation of airlines and their affiliates, such as the 33% ownership limit, among others.

The committee cited a report by the International Air Transport Association in May which showed that the restriction on ownership of airports by airline-related entities “unfairly discriminates against airline owners” and “there are already a number of cases globally where the airlines and the airport share the same ownership and the airport is considered world-class with no evidence of other airlines being subject to discriminatory practices.”

During the hearing in August, JG Summit Holdings, Inc. Vice-President Bach Johann Sebastian “averred that the restriction should be removed, emphasizing that airlines have inherent obligation to ensure fair and efficient operation of airports, and added that the fear of discriminatory practices could easily be addressed by the recently enacted Anti-Trust Law.”

Republic Act 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act prohibits all forms of anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position and anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions, with the objective of protecting consumer welfare and advancing domestic and international trade and economic development.

Source: Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza,

3 PH Airports in Asia’s Top 30 List

Asia’s Top 30 Airports according to

  1. Singapore Changi International Airport, Singapore (SIN)
  2. Seoul Incheon International Airport, South Korea (ICN)
  3. Tokyo Haneda International Airport, Japan (HND)
  4. Taipei Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan (TPE)
  5. Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong (HKG)
  6. Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia (KUL)
  7. Osaka Kansai International Airport, Japan (KIX)
  8. New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport, India (DEL)
  9. Hyderabad Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, India (HYD)
  10. Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, India (BOM)
  11. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok (BKK)
  12. Tokyo Narita International Airport, Japan (NRT)
  13. Koh Samui Airport, Thailand (USM)
  14. Trivandrum International Airport, India (TRV)
  15. Cochin International Airport, India (COK)
  16. Lahore Allama Iqbal International Airport, Pakistan (LHE)
  17. Bangalore Bengaluru International Airport, India (BLR)
  18. Mactan–Cebu International Airport, Philippines (CEB)
  19. Kolkata Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, India (CCU)
  20. Karachi Jinnah International Airport, Pakistan (KHI)
  21. Iloilo International Airport, Philippines (ILO)
  22. Kualanamu International Airport, Indonesia (KNO)
  23. Da Nang International Airport, Vietnam (DAD)
  24. Clark International Airport, Philippines (CRK)
  25. Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport, Azerbaijan (GYD)
  26. Surabaya Juanda International Airport, Indonesia (SUB)
  27. Penang International Airport, Malaysia (PEN)
  28. Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport, Vietnam (HAN)
  29. Beijing Capital International Airport, China (PEK)
  30. Kota Kinabalu International Airport, Malaysia (BKI)

Philippine Airports Ranking

Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) landed in 18th place; Iloilo Airport ranked 21st; and CRK snagged the 24th place.

#18) Mactan–Cebu International Airport, Philippines (CEB)

Concept design for the new Mactan–Cebu International Airport

Then known as the Mactan Air Base, the Mactan–Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu Cityin Mactan Island was built in 1956 by the United States as an emergency runway for Air Command bombers. Now, it is second to Manila’s NAIA in terms of being busy airport in the Philippines. It houses both domestic and international operations and has an annual capacity of 4.5 million passengers.

By 2018, the country’s second biggest gateway is expected to have a new world-class passenger terminal building and become the first-ever resort airport in the Philippines.

#21) Iloilo International Airport, Philippines (ILO)

Image Source:
Iloilo International Airport ​(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The fourth busiest airport in the Philippines can be found in the municipality of Santa Barbara in Iloilo. Started its operation in 2007, it was the first airport in the island of Panay to be built to international standards.

#24) Clark International Airport, Philippines (CRK)

Image Source:
Clark International Airport ​(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Serving the vicinity of central and northern Luzon, Clark International Airport is located in Clark Freeport Zone between the cities of Angeles and Mabalacat in the province of Pampanga. It houses flight destinations to Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Busan, and Doha. Its only domestic flight is to Cebu.

Govt Eyeing $13B Manila Bay Airport

The Transportation Department is set to propose to President Benigno Aquino III the construction of a $13-billion international airport in central Manila Bay, one of the potential sites recommended by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

“We have gotten the pre-feasibility. This is a site location study for the new international airport. We hope to push it up to Neda [National Economic and Development Authority] board,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told reporters.

The Neda board is chaired by President Aquino.

Abaya said Jica recommended two locations out of five sites considered for the new international gateway in Manila. The two are the Sangley Point in Cavite and central Manila Bay.

“I think these are the viable locations,” Abaya said.

The government wants to build a new international airport that is 25 to 30 minutes away from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Parañaque City, which is expected to reach its full capacity soon.

Jica said Naia would hit overcapacity this year, by which time the airport would handle 37.78 million passengers. By 2040, passenger traffic would reach 101.49 million.

Naia accommodated 31.88 million passengers in 2012, exceeding the 30 million yearly optimal capacity of the terminal. Its maximum handling capacity stands at 35 million passengers a year.

San Miguel Corp., which used to operate Philippine Airlines, earlier proposed to build a new international airport at a reclaimed area along the Manila-Cavity Coastal Road for $10 billion. San Miguel returned the control of PAL to tycoon Lucio Tan.

The proposed airport would have an international and domestic passenger handling capacity of 75 million passengers a year, with scalability to accommodate more than 100 million passengers.

It would be only 11 minutes away from the Makati central business district via a new airport expressway.

The Transportation Department said it was now focusing its efforts on airside operations, through its Naia Runway Optimization Project, which aimed to maximize the use of the runway and increase hourly air traffic movements from 40 up to 60.

The agency tapped world-renowned air traffic management expert Nats Services Limited, which started gathering data at the airport this week.

Nats will submit its recommendations on Naia’s current airspace, runway and terminal capacity, air traffic and surface operations, runway access points, and air traffic controllers’ training within the next six months.

The Manila International Airport Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines will jointly implement the recommended improvement measures for the ensuing six months.

Source: Darwin G. Amojelar,

TRAFFIC PATI SA ITAAS? | CAAP Explains Prolonged Hovering Above NAIA at the Height of Lando

MANILA – It was not air traffic congestion per se, but a combination of unscheduled landings and limited runway capacity, that forced dozens of planes to hover for several minutes over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as typhoon Lando was pounding north Luzon Monday.

This was the explanation given by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), as it sought to dispel on Wednesday claims of air traffic congestion causing flight delays.

CAAP Deputy Director General for Operations Rodante Joya was referring to safety concerns raised when planes geared for landing were compelled Monday to hover for several minutes over NAIA.

The NAIA has a limitation of having only 40 runway events in an hour, he explained. “NAIA has only one runway that can accommodate jetliners. The secondary runway that was recently activated can only accommodate small aircraft.  There is really no way for air traffic to be congested except if there is unscheduled or emergency landing.” Such a scenario happened on Monday when flights to the north that were cancelled by Lando had to return to Manila, lengthening the queue that air traffic controllers processed.

The CAAP official stressed that the air traffic controllers, though severely undermanned and relatively low-paid (with salaries in other countries at twice to as much as nine times those of Filipinos), managed to help each flight land safely, something he attributed to their skills and experience. “That is proof of the ability of our air traffic controllers to maintain the safety of flights, helping them all land in Manila safely,” Joya said.

The NAIA has two active runways: the primary runway 06/24; and secondary runway 13/31.

While noting the NAIA runway limitations, the CAAP deputy chief nonetheless thanked Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez for giving the aviation authority the chance to dispel the “myth” of congestion in air traffic.

Romualdez earlier said the “horrible traffic congestion” forced the plane he was in to hover for an hour over the metropolis until the aircraft was given clearance to land on Monday night.

Joya explained that aircraft coming from the south, particularly from the Visayas and Mindanao, could not immediately land on Monday as other north-bound planes had to cancel and needed to return to NAIA.

“Those (aircraft) returning to Manila were unscheduled to arrive during that time.  So they eventually clustered. Therefore there is no choice for our air traffic controllers but to make them hover over Metro Manila so they can be lined up for landing,” Joya said. Priority landing or takeoff is given to commercial jetliners and other big aircraft, he added.

Brain drain of controllers

Joya, while praising the air traffic controllers for being able to ensure safe landings and takeoffs despite their long hours and lowe pay, said 14 employees in the air traffic service left CAAP this year for better economic packages in overseas jobs.

The 14 were offered the same job with higher pay in airports in the Middle East particularly in Doha, Qatar and various African nations.

As of October 2015, CAAP had only 450 regular ATC employees and 237 others listed under job orders.

“We are losing them,” Joya said, pointing out that Philippine air traffic and tower controllers are the lowest paid in the Southeast Asian region and that a brain drain is unavoidable.

Based on 2014 ASEAN salary comparison records, Philippine air traffic controllers are the lowest paid. The average monthly salaries of ATCs in various places – compared to the Philippines’ US$1,100 – are:

• Hong Kong, $10,000;
• Singapore $8,000;
• Macau $5,000;
• Taiwan $3,000;
• South Korea $2,000;
• Malaysia $2,500

“Our air traffic service workers are leaving for abroad where they expect the pay to be commensurate with their skills,” Joya said, pointing out that most of the air traffic controllers in Dubai are Filipinos.

The ground-based controllers direct aircraft on the ground and provide advisory services to aircraft in non-controlled airspace. They enforce traffic separation rules, which ensure each aircraft maintains a minimum amount of empty space around it at all times.

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