Despite the congestion at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the government has allocated new slots to all domestic airlines that would enable them to add more flights.
However, the flights would have to be mounted at night as slots during peak hours in the morning and in the afternoon are all used up.
In industry parlance, a slot is defined as the allowable movement of a plane, either a takeoff or a landing.
Airline executives said they can only use so much of these additional slots for domestic destinations since not all airports in the country have night landing operations. If at all, most of these slots would have to be used for international flights.
Jose Angel A. Honrado, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA)
general manager, in a phone interview said the agency has allocated more than 1,000 new slots per week to Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and its unit CEB Go, PAL Express and Philippines Air Asia .
The new slots can be used for both international and domestic flights until March next year .
Currently, NAIA’s runway accommodates 40 events (take off and landing per hour), still manageable though beyond the designed capacity of an average of 36 events per hour. This is to accommodate the growing volume of passengers which is to reach more than 35 million this year.
Local airlines have said congestion at NAIA has hampered their domestic expansion.
Jaime Bautista, PAL president, said most of the airline’s expansion have been focused on flights originating from Cebu such as those going to Nagoya, Osaka and Narita.
PAL has also started flying out of Cebu to other key domestic airports like Davao and Iloilo.
By next year, PAL will start flying from Cebu to Los Angeles, California , Philippine Air Asia, which operates a fleet of purely Airbus 320s, said its expansion plan in the domestic market has also been hampered by infrastructure limitation as only few airports in the country can accommodate big-sized aircraft.
To increase NAIA’s air traffic movements from 40 to 60 events in the next six months, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) tapped the British firm joint venture of NATS Services Limited and Schema Konsult, Inc. as a temporary solution to ease congestion at NAIA.
For the long-term, however, DOTC is eyeing to build a new Manila international airport to avert further congestion in the next five years.
“ The DOTC and the MIAA have said the existing Manila airport no matter what they do will max out its capacity by 2022 and 2023. We need a final decision on where we should locate the new Manila international airport,” said Rogelio Singson, secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Noriaki Niwa, chief representative in the Philippines of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), said the feasibility study for the new Manila airport will be completed by January or February next year once President Aquino finalizes the decision on the location of the airport this year.
The feasibility study would determine the project cost, design and implementation of the project.
From five, the number of proposed sites for the new airport has narrowed down to two: the central Manila Bay area worth $13 billion and Sangley Point in Cavite, $10 billion.
To address the anticipated growing traffic at the country’s main hub, JICA has suggested to build a new airport near NAIA.
The new airport would address the anticipated passenger growth which projected to reach 37.8 million in 2015; 47.8 million in 2020; 59 million in 2015; 71.6 million by 2030; 85.6 million by 2035 and 101 million by 2040.
Source: Myla Iglesias, http://malaya.com.ph