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MANILA, Philippines - The government has imposed a moratorium on new daytime flights to decongest the runway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
"We have a runway congestion problem today. Hindi natin namalayan na may runway traffic na umusbong sa pagdami ng mga aircraft population at flight schedules sa loob ng nakaraang mga taon,” Transport Secretary Manuel Roxas said in a briefing.
Data from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) showed that the fleets of commercial airlines doubled to 119 today from only 62 in 2008.
These aircraft serviced 30 million passengers last year, up from 18 million in 2006. Aircraft movements or take offs and landings at NAIA also went up to 255,000 in 2011 compared with 171,000 in 2006.
NAIA’s runway can accommodate an average of 36 events (takeoffs and landings) an hour, but actual scheduled commercial and general aviation flights, including fish runs, went to as high as 50 events during daytime this summer season, causing a congested runway that led to flight delays and cancellations.
Citing discussions with various airline companies, Roxas said the DOTC has come up with a number of short- and long-term measures to increase the capacity of NAIA’s runway and redistribute demand.
He said the airlines agreed to conduct a study to adjust their schedules and transfer most of their flights to night-rated airports instead of lumping them during daytime.
Besides Manila, airports that have night landing capabilities are Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod, Kalibo, Tacloban, Puerto Princesa, Zamboanga, General Santos and Laoag.
Roxas said this would not happen immediately because the airlines already sold a lot of tickets for future flights.
Complementing this measure is the re-rating of 14 more provincial airports to night time. These airports are Tagbilaran, Legazpi, Dumaguete, Butuan, Ozamis, Cotabato, Naga, Dipolog, Roxas, Pagadian, Tuguegarao, Busuanga, Surigao and San Jose, Mindoro.
The re-rating would require P800 million, exclusive of operational expenses.
Another measure is the lowering of fees for takeoffs and landings at nighttime and increasing them at daytime. Fees for slots at 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. will double, while fees for slots at 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. will be reduced by 25 percent.
Roxas said NAIA will be declared a “Captain’s Runway,” meaning only captains can operate a takeoff or landing on the runway. At present, first officers are allowed to facilitate flight takeoffs as part of their training.
With this measure, only the pilot-in-command shall have full control during takeoffs and landings, ensuring that a flight is within the average of 100 seconds/movement.
To enhance the runway’s capacity, the construction of two rapid exit taxiways worth P300 million each is being expedited and is expected to be completed early next year.
This will boost the airport's flight handling capacity from 36 to a target of 45 events. At 36 events, an aircraft exits the runway in one minute and 40 seconds; at 45 events, the exit is one minute and 20 seconds
Angel Honrado, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager, said the agency is also discussing with the Department of National Defense to transfer all general aviation flights to Sangley Point in Cavite City within a month. There are 82 general aviation flights per day at NAIA, including fish runs. Tourism flights, such those going to Amanpulo, Batanes, or El Nido will only be allowed one cycle - one landing and takeoff - per company, within the peak period of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. At present, tourism flights are unlimited. This measure is expected to save an extra five to seven flights a day.
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