Airlines Losing Php7 Billion Due To Congested Airport

Image Source: Angelo Agcamaran

MANILA, Philippines—Not just passengers’ frayed nerves but the bottom lines of airlines operating in the country’s premier gateway are also suffering from the horrors of air traffic congestion.

The airlines have been incurring losses of more that P7 billion a year from the massive fuel expense because of the worsening congestion at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), said deputy director general John Andrews of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

Planes unable to immediately land, for example, would need to burn extra amounts of fuel, he said.

Andrews estimated that about 200,000 to 400,000 kilograms in additional fuel are expended as a result of the congestion, or P10 million to P20 million a day, by the airlines.

Airlines incur close to P3.7 billion a year in added fuel expenses and lose another P3.7 billion from “engine costs and cost of aircraft time,” he said.

For this reason, the airlines are supporting a plan to construct a second parallel runway for Naia, where capacity at its sole primary runway has been struggling to keep up with increasing demand for air travel, Andrews said.

According to Andrews, the second runway, at about 2,300-kilometers long, is shorter than the 3,400-km primary runway. But its completion will allow a 50 percent increase in take-off and landing events to 60 per hour from the existing 40, he said. It is estimated to cost P2 billion.

“I think I have already convinced Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary [Joseph Abaya] that this is the only option available to us,” Andrews said.

Abaya earlier said that a key issue was the expropriation of land, involving about 600 homes of squatters and private homeowners, but Andrews said this would not be a major issue for the government.

“This can easily be done with the proper political will,” he said.

Andrews said CAAP did not expect that there would be any compliance issues with international air safety bodies like the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

“It is already ICAO compliant. There are no major problems or issues we cannot mitigate,” said Andrews, who was part of the team that played a key role in getting Philippine air safety upgrades from the United States and Europe.

Abaya had said in a previous interview that he supported a second parallel runway in Naia as it would be a faster fix than long-term proposals, which include building a new international airport.

San Miguel Corp., a part owner of flag carrier Philippine Airlines, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) are looking at possible locations in the Manila Bay and Sangley Point, Cavite, respectively, to build a new $10-billion air gateway designed with four runways on reclaimed land.

Abaya said it was unlikely for any new international airport serving Manila to start construction by the time President Aquino steps down in 2016.

Source: , PDI.


Gov’t Allots P2B for New Parallel Runway

IMG_841814828284562MANILA – The government is initially spending at least P2 billion to put up an alternative runway parallel to the existing runway to ease traffic congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told reporters on the sidelines of the 23rd World Economic Forum (WEF) East Asia that the first phase of the project would involve the construction of a 2.1-kilometer runway parallel or south of the existing primary runway 06/24.

“The first phase is P2 billion but we have to verify that. The new runway could allow Airbus A320 to land,” Abaya said.

According to him, the government would have to study the proposed runway as this could displace close to 600 houses in the Merville Subdivision beside the 400-hectare NAIA complex.

“Probably our biggest challenge is the 600 households that will be affected. We’re still verifying if they are informal settlers or private owners. I think at the end of the day that’s going to be the biggest challenge,” Abaya said.

Since the project would involve expropriation of land and relocation of families to be displaced, the DOTC chief said the agency needs the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as well as the National Housing Authority (NHA).

“The plan is the government will finance the relocation. So we need help from DPWH and NHA since we are not an expert in relocation,” Abaya added.

Another concern, he added, is the possibility that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) could withdraw the certification of the existing runway once a new runway is constructed beside it.

“We’re also checking with ICAO. They are saying that when you have a precision landing certified runway and if you construct a new runway beside it the existing certification will be cancelled. We don’t want this to happen,” he said.

The DOTC chief said he has tasked the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to check with ICAO so as not to compromise the certification of the existing runway.

He pointed out that the idea of constructing a new runway came from diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) which also owns national flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL).

Abaya said SMC and PAL argued that the Los Angeles Airport has a similar set up of parallel runways.

He added that the additional runway would increase the landings and take-offs at the congested international to between 60 and 70 events per hour from the current 40.

The NAIA was built in 1981 with two intersecting runways – primary runway 06/24 and secondary runway 13/31. Aviation authorities to cap the number aircraft movements at 40 per hour as it decided to move general aviation flights to Sangley  airport in Cavite.

Source: Lawrence Agcaoili, Philippine Star

Roxas Airport (RXS) Soon To Have Night Landing Operations


ROXAS CITY, Capiz, May 2 (PIA6) – The Roxas City airport is among the eight airports in the country that will be upgraded by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to accommodate night landing operations.

This was disclosed by Sec. Mar Roxas of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in time with the presence of Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) who graced the groundbreaking of the Philippine Coast Guard’s 1st Search and Rescue (SAR) base at Culasi Port here recently.

Roxas said that the construction of runway extension will accommodate bigger planes at the airport.

“More tourists and products will come in while our fresh seafood and other products can now be flown to other countries,” he said in Tagalog.

The DILG Secretary said that the Roxas City airport development, which also involves the construction of a perimeter fence, and rehabilitation and expansion of the passenger terminal building, is part of the country’s preparation for the 2015 ASEAN Free Trade Zone implementation which underscores the need for physical connectivity thru air, water and land to keep at pace with the globalization trend.

In April 2013, Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III led the groundbreaking of the multi-million airport development project at the Roxas City airport.

The other airports up for development to cater night landing operations are located in Butuan, Cotabato, Dumaguete, Tuguegarao, Dipolog, Ozamis, and Busuanga.

The DOTC and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) have decided to upgrade the night landing operations of these airports in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization standards to also ease congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Source: PIA/Alex A. Lumaque

FAA Announces the Republic of the Philippines’ Aviation Safety Rating (Back to Cat.1)


WASHINGTON– The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that the Republic of the Philippines complies with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and has been granted a Category 1 rating.

The country previously held a Category 1 rating until January 2008, when it was downgraded to a Category 2. A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority – equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping or inspection procedures.

The return to Category 1 status is based on a March 2014 FAA review of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines. A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards. With the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category 1 rating, the Republic of the Philippines’ air carriers can add flights and service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers.

As part of the FAA’s IASA program, the agency assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that have applied to fly to the United States, currently conduct operations to the United States or participate in code sharing arrangements with U.S. partner airlines and makes that information available to the public. The assessments determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations.

In order to maintain a Category 1 rating, a country must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.  IASA information is at

EU Lifts Ban on Cebu Pacific, Announcement on April 10

Photo Credit: Nikki Pili

MANILA, Philippines – Budget airline Cebu Pacific of billionaire John Gokongwei Jr. is set to become the second local carrier allowed to fly to Europe.

Julian Vassallo, Chargè d’ Affaires of the European Union (EU), and officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) are scheduled to announce in a press conference Thursday, April 10 the lifting of the EU ban on Cebu Pacific.

In July, the EU lifted the ban on Philippine Airlines (PAL), allowing the legacy carrier to fly to the 28-nation bloc again.

CAAP Director General Lt. Gen. William Hotchkiss III and CAAP Deputy Director General Capt. John Andrews will preside over the press conference Thursday. Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei is also expected to attend the event.

The EU blacklisted Philippine carriers in 2010 after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) classified the Philippine aviation industry as “a significant safety concern.” CAAP failed to comply with safety standards that ICAO required.

ICAO scrapped this classification in March last year, prompting the EU to lift the ban on PAL. Jointly owned by tycoon Lucio Tan and diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation, PAL started direct flights to London in November.

The EU however kept other local carriers on its blacklist, saying “progress [was] still needed to reach effective compliance.”

EU Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux said then that accidents involving Cebu Pacific planes showed some weaknesses.


A Cebu Pacific plane carrying 165 passengers overshot the runway of the Davao International Airport in June last year. No one was hurt in the incident, but several passengers complained it took a while before they were ushered out of the aircraft. Nearly two weeks after, another Cebu Pacific plane figured in an accident at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Cebu Pacific worked on addressing remaining safety concerns, and was supposed to seek the EU’s green light to fly to Europe in November. It postponed the plan to give way to rehabilitation efforts following the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

In January, Cebu Pacific informed the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport of the EU in Brussels that it already complied with all outstanding safety concerns.

Aside from the lifting of the EU ban, regulators are pursuing the upgrade of the Philippine aviation safety status by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The US FAA downgraded the Philippines’ status to Category 2 from Category 1 in 2008 upon the recommendation of ICAO.

Category 2 prohibits Philippine carriers from mounting new and additional flights to the US. Airlines in Category 2 countries are also placed under heightened US FAA surveillance.

CAAP is confident an upgrade will be made soon. The US FAA is yet to release the results of an audit it conducted in March.


Cebu Pacific Air Awaits OK on Europe Flights

Image Source: T. Laurent

MANILA, Philippines – The European Union is currently evaluating the application of Gokongwei-owned Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) to enter European airspace after the body partially lifted a ban and allowed flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) to fly to London last year.

Lawyer Jorenz Tanada, vice president for corporate affairs of Cebu Pacific, told The STAR that the budget airline has been advised by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to attend the Air Safety Committee (ASC) meeting of the EU this week.

“We were advised by the CAAP that the EU has invited Cebu Pacific to attend the Air Safety Committee meeting on March 26,” Tanada said.

(Ret.) Capt. John Andrews, deputy director general of CAAP, confirmed that the application of Cebu Pacific to fly to Europe is now being evaluated by the commission.

“It will be done this week,” he confirmed.

In March of 2010, the 27-member European Commission imposed a ban on Philippine carriers from entering the European airspace after CAAP failed to reform the country’s civil aviation system as mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

However, the Philippines got a positive impression at the EU’s Air Safety Committee (ASC) in Belgium in June especially after ICAO lifted the remaining significant security concerns regarding the Philippines after the CAAP passed the audit conducted in February last year.

This paved the way for the partial lifting of the ban in July last year allowing PAL to mount direct flights to London last November.

In 2008, the safety rating of the Philippines was downgraded by the US FAA upon the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to Category 2 from Category 1 after CAAP failed to comply with safety standards for the oversight of air carrier operations.

Cebu Pacific informed the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DGMOVE) of the EU that the low cost carrier has already complied with all the outstanding aviation safety concerns just like PAL.

Tanada pointed out that Cebu Pacific and representatives from CAAP met in Brussels in January.

“There was a technical review meeting between representatives from CAAP, Cebu Pacific, and the EU DGMOVE last January 28 in Brussels,” he revealed.

It would be recalled that no less than Cebu Pacific president and chief executive officer Lance Gokongwei earlier announced that the budget airline would seek the green light from the EU to fly to European airspace in November last year.

Gokongwei assured that Cebu Pacific operates a safe airline despite the incident involving two of its aircraft at the Davao International Airport and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last June.

Since the incidents, Gokongwei said that the airline has complied with the recommendations of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) particularly on the training of its pilots as well as the review of its flight operating system by experts from Airbus.

However, the plan was deferred after Super Typhoon Yolanda battered several provinces in the Visayas region last Nov. 8.

Cebu Pacific is in the middle of a $4 billion re-fleeting program involving the acquisition of 49 Airbus aircraft as it gears up for long-haul flights to the United States and Europe.

Cebu Pacific has a fleet of 50 aircraft composed of 10 A319, 29 Airbus A320, three Airbus A330, and eight ATR-72 500 aircraft. It expects the delivery of 13 A320, 30 A321neo, and three A330 between 2014 and 2021.

Cebu Pacific is also looking at mounting flights to the US, particularly Guam and Hawaii once the country’s status is upgraded by the US Federal Aviation Administration (US-FAA) back to Category 1.

In 2008, the safety rating of the Philippines was downgraded by the US FAA upon the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to Category 2 from Category 1 after CAAP failed to comply with safety standards for the oversight of air carrier operations.


Aviation Buzz: Philippines Failed Again US-FAA Aviation Upgrade?

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MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The Philippines failed to get a much-coveted aviation rating upgrade from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which still found the country “unsafe” in a recent audit, industry sources said.

This means Philippine carriers are still banned from opening new routes or mounting additional flights to the US.

In January, an FAA team visited the country to review compliance of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) with international safety standards, and gave an unfavorable 5-page report, CAAP insiders said.

A copy of the report obtained from the sources showed CAAP did not comply with several requirements, retaining its Category 2 status and failing to move up to the Category 1 list.

CAAP has been working on getting the upgrade for 6 years now. It was confident it was going to get the upgrade last month, with Deputy Director-General John Andrews saying he’d resign if they didn’t.

The FAA downgraded CAAP’s safety rating in 2008 upon the recommendation of the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). At the time, ICAO found “significant concerns” over CAAP’s ability to meet international safety standards.

Under Category 2, Philippine carriers may continue existing flights to the US, but they cannot launch new routes or additional flights. Category 2 also puts them under heightened surveillance.

Following the US downgrade, the European Union also imposed a ban on Philippine carriers in 2010 due to the same safety concerns.

But last year, ICAO gave the Philippines a passing mark in its audit, while the EU allowed legacy carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) to fly to the 28-nation bloc again.

The US status is the only remaining negative rating against the country.

The FAA is expected to announce its latest findings in Washington soon.


CAAP sources said the regulator failed to pass in 4 of “8 critical elements” that the FAA has been monitoring for “safety oversight” compliance by civil aviation authorities of ICAO-member countries.

FAA rules require that the aviation authorities hurdle all 8 elements to be upgraded to Category 1 status.

The 4 elements where there were findings against CAAP include:

  • Primary Aviation Legislation
  • Technical personnel qualification and training
  • Technical guidance, tools and provision of safety critical information
  • Licensing, certification, authorization and approval obligations

Among the findings in the FAA report were:

  • CAAP has not complied with the Article of the Chicago Convention with regard to Amendment 37 to Annex 6 part 1 issued March 28, 2013 related to approach ban provision.
  • The CAAP Airmen Examination Board personnel are not trained to prepare, administer and evaluate written theoretical examination. Records indicate that only 1 out of 9 employees has four initial trainings. There is no evidence of having correct training in almost all of Caap’s development course. None has completed the formal training policy and programs for operations and Airworthiness Inspectors does not include sufficient on the job training.
  • CAAP Airworthiness Technical Guidance does not contain complete policies, procedures and standards.

One of the sources said, “Most of the FAA findings are doable, but nobody in CAAP is actually doing the actual work to conform with regulations.”

The FAA review was conducted from January 20 to 24 by a team of 5 people, led by Gregory Michael, head of Flight Standards District Office of FAA.

The exit interview on January 24 was reportedly attended by top CAAP officials, including Andrews and head of Flight Safety Inspectorate Service Beda Badiola.

Andrews is on leave and will report back for work on February 17. Director-General William Hotchkiss, on the other hand, is attending the Singapore Air Show 2014.

Andrews declined to comment on the FAA report, but he said someone was trying to discredit the efforts of the agency.

He added officials are still confident of getting an upgrade. “We are optimistic this is positive.”

In a phone interview, CAAP chief financial officer Rodante Joya also declined to confirm whether or not the Philippines got the upgrade.

He said, “It is the FAA that will announce that in Washington. We have not received any official communication if we failed or passed the review.”

Joya said the FAA is expected to make the announcement “65 days from the last day of the audit.”

Against expectations

In November, Andrews said he was confident the country would finally win an upgrade from US authorities this year.

“If it does not happen, the buck stops at me. If this does not happen… I will no longer be here. That is my commitment,” he said then.

Andrews drew confidence from ICAO’s move in February to give the Philippines a passing mark, as well as the EU’s decision to lift its ban.

Sources said the FAA will return in March for another CAAP audit.

Philippine carriers are banking on the upgrade as they plan on expanding in the US.

Currently, only PAL is allowed to fly to the US. Budget carrier Cebu Pacific has expressed desire to operate the lucrative route.

Source: (

Philippines Prepares for Audit of Air Safety Standards


The US Federal Aviation Administration may push through with an audit of the Philippines’ air safety standards this month—an exercise seen as a key step for the country in getting a coveted US aviation upgrade, a government official said Monday.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) deputy director general John Andrews said in a text message that the audit would likely happen this month.

“There is a schedule but we will have to confirm the dates,” Andrews said without elaborating.

The exercise did not push through in the fourth quarter last year as anticipated by CAAP, thus delaying the upgrade to Category 1 status.

CAAP had suggested that an upgrade from its current Category 2 status was all but certain.

Nevertheless, the delay meant that local carriers had had to wait longer before being allowed to expand in the United States.

The FAA downgraded the Philippines five years ago due to safety concerns.

Currently, only flag carrier Philippine Airlines mounts flights to the US but Cebu Pacific Air, the country’s largest budget carrier, said it was eyeing expansion there as well.


“There are no more safety issues as far as we are concerned. This has been confirmed by no less than the EU (European Union) and ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization),” Andrews said in a previous interview.

The Philippines passed the ICAO assessment early last year, which led to the lifting last July of a ban imposed by the European Union. This allowed Philippine Airlines to fly to points in Europe.

As noted, the restoration to Category 1 status  would allow carriers like Philippine Airlines, the only domestic carrier with flights to the United States, to expand flights within that country. It also opens the door for other carriers to fly to the United States.

The FAA move is also seen as beneficial for Philippine Airlines, as it could use newer and more efficient planes to ply its lucrative US routes.

The downgrade to category 2 prevented the flag carrier from doing this.

Cebu Pacific To Mount Direct Flights to Riyadh, Dammam


MANILA, Philippines – Budget airline Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) is set to mount direct flights to Riyadh and Dammam as part of efforts to expand its routes to the Middle East to serve the needs of overseas Filipino workers.

The low cost carrier is seeking the green light from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to impose a fuel surcharge on international passengers of Manila – Riyadh and Manila – Dammam flights.

Cebu Pacific intends to impose a $105 fuel surcharge on each passenger for both routes in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The CAB allows airlines to impose fuel surcharge on international and domestic passengers as a temporary relief to help them recover losses arising from the increase in jet fuel prices in the world market.

The low cost carrier launched its first long-haul operations via direct flights between Manila and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates last Oct. 7 using a brand new Airbus A330 aircraft.

The Philippines inked new air services agreements with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in 2012.

In the air pact with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, both countries agreed to double flight frequencies to 21 flights per week from the previous 10 between the two countries and to remove limits on flights from Clark international airport in Pampanga.

On the other hand, the agreement with the United Arab Emirates likewise doubled flight entitlements to 28 per week from 14 between the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates.

Rival national flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc., jointly owned by taipan Lucio Tan and diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC), resumed direct flights to both Riyadh and Dammam using A330-300 early this month after non-stop flights to Abu Dhabi last Oct. 1 and Dubai via sister firm PAL Express last Nov. 6.

The national flag carrier first flew to Riyadh using Boeing 747-400 in March 1987 but the service was suspended in March 2011. It also mounted flights to Dammam in July 1982 via the Dhahran international airport moving to King Fahd international airport in 1999 but was the service was terminated in August 2001.

Likewise, Cebu Pacific is seeking the approval of CAB to impose a $50 fuel surcharge on each passenger of direct flights to Osaka in Japan starting Dec. 20 and to Narita and Nagoya starting March 30 next year.

The Philippines and Japan inked a new air service agreement increasing the number of flights between Manila and Narita to a total maximum 400 per week from the previous 119. It also allowed 14 flights per week between Manila and Haneda as well as unlimited air traffic rights between points in the Philippines except Manila and points in Japan except Haneda.

Japan has been imposing restrictions on local carriers from the Philippines preventing them from mounting additional flights after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) raised several safety security concerns since 2008. ICAO lifted the concerns last February.

Cebu Pacific’s bid to fly to Europe has been delayed due to Super Typhoon Yolanda as the hearing of its application to enter the European airspace has been deferred by the European Union to March next year instead of last November.

Last July 10, the EU announced the lifting of a ban imposed in 2010 that allowed PAL to mount direct flights to London last Nov. 4.

Source: Lawrence Agcaoili, The Philippine Star

Clark International Airport Eyes Higher Fire Safety Rating


CLARK International Airport hopes to receive the highest fire safety rating upgrade from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in the third quarter next year, a top official said.

The airport currently has a safety rating of Category 9 and is expected to be upgraded to Category 10 by the third quarter of 2014, Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) President and Chief Executive Officer Victor Jose I. Luciano told BusinessWorld.

CIAC will purchase two brand new Rapid Fire Trucks to beef up its emergency capabilities, Mr. Luciano said in a text message. The trucks will be able to handle even the world’s largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777.

“The Middle East carriers, particularly Emirates Airlines, have a large fleet of [Airbus] A380s, and if at all, it would be the first in history in the Philippine Aviation that an A-380 will fly commercially in the country,” Mr. Luciano noted.

Emirates flies to Clark daily. The fire trucks will be funded by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) and have a projected cost of P120 million.

The management of the airport has yet to file a formal application with the ICAO, however.

“We haven’t filed an application yet. We will file once the trucks arrive,” Mr. Jose said.

The trucks are expected to arrive in September next year.

Meanwhile, seven commercial aircraft were diverted Wednesday to the Clark International Airport due to air traffic congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Flights from AirAsia Zest, Cebu Pacific, Etihad Airlines, Philippine Airlines Express, and Singapore Airlines were diverted.

The government is looking into the possibility of having a dual-airport system by further expanding, improving, and modernizing the capacity of Clark Airport and NAIA.

Aviation groups and business clusters have repeatedly expressed their support for the prospect.

Clark Airport has recorded 1.3 million international passengers this year, more than double the 600,000 passengers in 2012.

Source: Lorenz Christoffer S. Marasigan, Business World Online